When I was a freshman in college, I lived with a true blue Cajun from New Iberia, LA. She introduced me to my first ever King Cake and every year thereafter, I ordered this Mardi Gras staple. One year my parents gifted me with a boxed mix after they went on a college trip to Tulane with my little brother. This year, I told my husband that I was going to try my hand making one from scratch. The only problem is that the King Cakes I ordered online had customized fillings (which some New Orleans natives say is an abomination!) and I always chose half apple-cream cheese and half almond. Trying to find a recipe for something similar online was more difficult than I thought, and eventually I combined several different recipes into this loaf of yum! Break out your beads and enjoy this King Cake all Season long!!! Don't forget to bake a baby into the cake!!
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
1 7-ounce tube almond paste
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour
½ cup very finely ground almonds
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons + 1 to 2 teaspoons milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze
yellow, purple, and green fine sparkling sugars
Lightly grease a 10", 4-cup capacity bakeable stoneware ring mold, or a baking sheet.
To prepare the dough: Using a stand mixer with the dough hook, mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together to form a smooth, very silky dough. You may try kneading this dough with your hands, if desired; but be advised it's very sticky and soft. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour. It'll become puffy, though it probably won't double in size.
Transfer the soft dough to a lightly greased sheet pan. Pat and stretch it into a 24" x 6" rectangle. This won't be hard at all; it's very stretchy. Let the dough rest while you prepare the filling.
To prepare the filling: Beat the almond paste, butter, sugar, and salt until creamy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, and beat until well incorporated. Mix in the flours. Dollop the filling down the center of the dough. Then fold each edge up and over the filling till they meet at the top; roll and pinch the edges together, to seal the filling inside as much as possible. Don't worry about making the seal look perfect; it'll eventually be hidden by the icing and sugar.
Form the log of dough into a ring on the greased baking sheet. The dough will be very extensible and will stretch as you handle it, so handle gently and with caution! Pinch the ends together. Cover and let rise for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F while the dough rises.
Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush over the risen loaf. Bake the cake for 20 minutes, then tent it lightly with aluminum foil. Bake it for an additional 30 minutes, until it's a rich golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven, and allow to cool completely.
To make the icing: Beat together all of the icing ingredients, dribbling in the final 2 teaspoons milk till the icing is thick yet pourable.
Pour the icing over the completely cooled cake. While it's still sticky, sprinkle with alternating bands of yellow, purple, and green sugars.