With Mardi Gras coming up next week, I thought I would share with you this delicious King Cake and some fun ideas for hosting a party. We have hosted several Mardi Gras parties over the years and they are always SO much fun! The first one we did was right after my Mom returned from a conference in New Orleans. She brought us back lots of Mardi Gras beads, beautiful ornate masks, feather Boas and lots of Cajun spices and mixes. We decked the table out in purple, green and gold, invited some friends over for some Cajun food, handed out the masks and boas for the ladies and a fun tradition was born! To give you a little history, Mardi Gras, also called ‘Fat Tuesday’ is the last day of feasting before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday each year. Medieval Christians used up their eggs, butter and milk that day to make delicious baked items and pastries like the King Cake, since all of these items were forbidden during their Lenten abstinence. Since we do not practice Lent and Tuesday night being a school night, the actual date for Mardi Gras is never a good time for a party. Instead we have picked a weekend fairly close to the actual date for our celebration. Last year my party was in March, no one seemed to mind:)
Menu Ideas: When I do this party I let my friends who offer to help bring a favorite appetizer, salad, cornbread, rolls or dessert to share and then I make one or more of the following:
Mardi Gras Party Tips:
*Send out invitations and ask your guests to wear traditional Mardi Gras colors–Green, Purple and Gold
*Go to a party store, craft store (Hobby Lobby has lots of stuff), or your local Dollar Store and get Mardi Gras beads (green, purple, and gold), masks (last year I got hilarious Mardi Gras mask/sunglasses at the Dollar Store and set them by each persons place at the table) and boas for the ladies if you can find them. The masks and boas could be saved and used every year! OR you could have all the stuff out and let your guests create their own masks with beads, feather and glitter:)
*Set your table and decorate with the colors Purple, Green and Gold.
*One game we did with the beads: You pick certain words that are forbidden–such as Mardi Gras, New Orleans, whatever you want–when a guest says the forbidden word they have to give up their beads to whoever catches them. The winner is the person with the most beads at the end of the night.
*During dinner tell your guests or play a simple trivia game about the history of Mardi Gras that you look up online. There is TONS of information.
*Finish dinner with the King Cake: one of the wonderful traditions of Mardi Gras, and probably the most delicious:) You could share this fun King Cake history before you serve it:
“On the Christian calendar, the 12th day after Christmas is celebrated as the
date that the gift-bearing Magi visited the baby Jesus. This day, January 6, is
known by several names, including “Epiphany”, “Twelfth Night”, or “Kings Day”.
The celebration of this event has evolved over the centuries, with each culture
adding its own unique rituals. The New Orleans tradition, borrowing heavily from
European influences, is believed to have begun in the 1870’s. As part of this
celebration, it is now traditional to bake a cake in honor of the three kings –
the King Cake. King Cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths. Each
cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple representing
justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. A small baby,
symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside each King Cake.
In New Orleans, King Cake parties are held throughout the Mardi Gras season.
In offices, classrooms, and homes throughout the city, King Cakes are sliced and
enjoyed by all. Like the Biblical story, the “search for the baby” adds
excitement, as each person waits to see in which slice of cake the baby will be
discovered. While custom holds that the person who “finds” the baby will be
rewarded with “good luck”, that person is also traditionally responsible for
bringing the King Cake to the next years party.” (Source )
submitted by Melanie~The Sisters Cafe
*Just a note: This is really more of a cinnamon roll than a cake. If you want you could substitute a cinnamon roll recipe for the dough or I have used my Buttermilk roll recipe for the dough . Also, if you do not like cream cheese, you could just do a cinnamon sugar mixture over butter like traditional cinnamon rolls.
This recipe makes 2 cakes
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
4 1/2 tsp or 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
CREAM CHEESE FILLING:
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tb flour
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp milk
BROWN SUGAR/ CINNAMON MIX:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tb ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans (opt)
BUTTER CREAM GLAZE:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 Tb softened butter
1 tsp vanilla, almond or rum extract
2-3 Tb milk
Purple, Green, and Gold Sprinkles
1 small plastic doll (find at party supply or craft stores)
Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
To Make Cream Cheese Filling: Combine the confectioners sugar, flour, vanilla and milk together until creamy and light.
Roll each of the dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches or so). Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the dough (half on each) and then sprinkle with the brown sugar / cinnamon mixture. Roll the dough tightly jelly roll style, starting from the long side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet, seam side down. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. If using, push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the Butter cream Glaze and sprinkle on the purple, green and gold sprinkle in 1/3 sections.
Recipe source: Adapted from Allrecipes