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Do you know about king cakes? Growing up Yankee, I had never heard of them. One of my college roommates was from Louisiana and introduced me to them. They’re a food and party game in one.
You see, traditional king cakes have a plastic baby hidden inside of them. Yup, you heard me right. A plastic baby. Tradition says that the person who finds the baby in their slice of cake brings the cake to the next party. Nowadays, it’s just a fun addition, and many homemade cakes don’t have them (some recipes say you can use a coin or a dried bean instead). If you want to read about the history of the plastic baby in the king cake you can find it here and here.
Easy King Cake
To best describe a king cake I’d say that it is similar to a cinnamon roll, with icing and lots of colored sugar on top. Some have various fillings, but the ones that I’ve been most familiar with have just butter and cinnamon sugar swirled throughout. (If you want to add a filling, cream cheese whipped with a little sugar and vanilla would be divine).
In fact, the best king cake that I’ve made was using my favorite cinnamon roll recipe. It was delicious, but labor intensive. Sometimes you just don’t have time for all that. Can I get an ‘Amen’?
This recipe uses refrigerated crescent dough. If you have more time on your hands than I do right now, feel free to substitute your favorite homemade dough.
I used the sheets of dough, which makes things easy. But you could use the triangles as well, it would just take a little more finagling. You’ll need two packages of dough.
It’s as easy as spreading on some butter, sprinkling on a cinnamon sugar mixture, and rolling it all up. Use your two rolled ‘logs’ of dough to form a circle, pinching the ends together.
Bake till golden brown and be sure let cool completely before you ice it. It’s just a simple powdered sugar icing, and will melt right off if the cake is hot.
The thing that makes a king cake a king cake is the crunch of the colored sugar on top. Don’t hold back. This is no time for a dainty sprinkle.
My husband and kids look forward to a king cake every year. Sometimes they’ll luck up and I’ll make gumbo or jambalaya for Mardi Gras, too.
Laissez le bon temps rouler!
(I don’t speak French at all..I basically know how to say this, shut up, I love you, and the nasty song lyric I won’t repeat). But seriously, let the good times roll…bake up an easy king cake tonight!
Here’s the recipe: