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King Cake is a New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition. It if first served on All Kings Day, Jan 6th, which is also the first day of Mardi Gras. A little doll is baked inside and the one who finds it is King until the next day, the next cake and the next King. And it is the responsibility of the King to bring the next King Cake to the next party and in New Orleans, that means every night.
A King Cake is not really a cake. It is more like a bread, or a roll and cinnamon is the traditional flavoring. While I make the bread from scratch, it is a tough job, so in a pinch, when I want one really fast I use a bread mix. For instance, Pillsbury makes a Quick Bread & Muffin Mix called Cinnamon Swirl. This is a perfect one to use, the cinnamon is already in it. Follow the directions for mixing the bread and then get out your largest baking sheet and spray with a vegetable spray. Put the dough on the tray and shape it into a long snake like rope shape. Alternatively, knead it all in a bread machine.
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Then twist the rope and pinch the ends together. Bake it in a pre heated – must be preheated- 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. You can tell when it is done when the top is nice and brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out nice and dry. Some people like to fill the bread/cake with things like cream cheese, but I find it makes it a bit too heavy.
When the cake is done, put it on the traditional oven rack to cool and while it is cooking put in the plastic doll.
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Now come the fun part the icing. This is a simple icing that is also great on a pound cake. It is simply confectioners, sugar, about and the juice of a lemon. Divide it into three portions and using food coloring, color one , one gold to do this just put in extra yellow until it gets dark, one green and one purple, which you get by mixing red and blue. These are the three colors of Mardi Gras. Alternate using the three colors all around the cake. And there you have it. A King Cake that looks and tastes like it took you hours to make.
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