King Cake 101

Tis the season for king cakes, and it's one of my favorite times to bake. I've been asked a whole lot lately to define what it is that makes a king cake. Here you go...

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  1. This year, Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 21. That means that this year I have just over a month (from the official Twelfth Night start of the season) to make king cakes. 

    I love king cakes. In reality, they're just a giant cinnamon roll covered with sticky icing. But to me, they're a reminder of home. I started making them when I couldn't find really good king cakes in north Louisiana. The tradition continued in Arkansas. Every year, it seems like more and more people ask me to make them. 

    I guess when I eventually open my bakery, they'll be on the menu.
  2. Making the cakes (multiple because it really doesn't pay to make just one) takes the greater part of a day. I announced my intentions this morning on Twitter and then documented the process, thanks to the example of @natedogreimer. Since it's really hard to find a good cake without shipping it out of Louisiana, I hope folks will at least give this a shot. 
  3. So, after tweeting a bit about the process, I got down to it. 

    First off, you melt some butter along with sugar, salt, and sour cream. What a great way to start, huh? 
  4. Then, I got a tweet from @donaldg, who asked me a while ago for a recipe so he could veganize it. Good luck on that, Don...
  5. So, for @donaldg and everyone else who wants to try a real or vegan version, the recipe I used this time is from Southern Living. It's not the same as I have used in the past, but I can't find the darn thing online anymore. I deviated - as you will see - when it came time to fill them and make the icing.  

    The second step, which can be done at the same time as you heat up the sour cream mixture, is to get your yeast to working. Remember the temperature is uber important with yeast....
  6. So we got the yeast working. And working. And working.
  7. And we stirred the sour cream stuff. 
  8. All the while, gently beating the eggs to add to the two other parts.