Off to the party store I go to buy a plastic baby.
As I walk in the store, there is a Mardi Gras display and I begin to look for the baby. I find coins, hats, masks, beads, party favors but no baby!
The store is huge... where to look next?
"Excuse me sir" I say to the fella stocking shelves. "Can you tell me where I can find a little plastic baby?"
Evidently he immediately knew what I was looking for as I held my fingers out to show the size of the baby.
"We run out of them every year at this time."
Who knew? Did I make this trip for nothing?
"But... I think we still might have some in the back."
So I followed him to the furthest corner of the store and sure enough... one package left! It was my lucky day!
So now I have a dozen little babies... $2.99 plus tax!
So if you are looking for a little plastic baby, just give me a call! You never know when you might need one last minute.
This is an adaptation of a recipe found on the Food Network Magazine website.
Be aware, there are multiple risings, so give yourself plenty of time or make over a two day period.
For the Cake:
1/3 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
2 large egg yolks, plus 2 eggs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the bowl
For the Filling:
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Plastic King Cake baby (available at party-supply stores or mardigrasday.com)
For the icing:
4 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Purple, green and gold sanding sugar, for decorating
Heat the milk in a saucepan until scalding; transfer to a food processor, add the yeast and pulse to combine. Add 1/2 cup flour and the egg yolks; process to combine. Pour the remaining 2 cups flour evenly over the yeast mixture; do not process. Put the lid on; set aside for 90 minutes.
Add the 2 whole eggs, granulated sugar, lemon zest, salt and nutmeg to the food processor; process to make a slightly textured dough, about 1 minute. With the machine running, slowly add the butter to make a smooth, sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place for 3 hours. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead briefly; form into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Plump the raisins in the bourbon in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Remove from the heat and add the brown sugar, pecans, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt; mix until combined and set aside.
On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 20-by-7-inch rectangle, with the long edge facing you. Spoon the filling in an even layer over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the top and bottom. Fold the bottom and then the top edge over the filling to make a tight roll; pinch to seal. Transfer the roll seam-side down to a parchment-lined baking sheet; tuck one end into the other to form a ring.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the roll doubles in size, about 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cake until firm and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Mix together in a food processor the cream cheese, confectioner's sugar and vanilla, adjusting the amount of confectioner's sugar as needed for desired thickness.
Drizzle or spread over cooled King Cake and sprinkle with colored sugars.
Decorate with plastic baby, and/or beads, Mardi Gras coins as desired.
I prefer not to bake the plastic baby in the cake but rather to use it as a decoration.
If you wish to put it in the cake, press it in from beneath the cooled cake prior to icing. This seems safer to me than baking it in the cake.
To read about the history of the King Cake and the significance of the baby please go to: