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Video: Celebrate Mardi Gras with homemade king cake

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    >>> we are back in today's kitchen with fat tuesday, a week from today. the parades and parties have already begun in new orleans .

    >> is isn't a mardi gras party without king cake . here with two different ways to make one at home is native new orleanian david gras, chef and owner of bayou bakery custom bar and eatery.

    >> happy mardi gras . start with a little something festive.

    >> i love it.

    >> put your beads on and --

    >> put your beads on.

    >> we'll make some king cake ?

    >> this is the most recognizable dessert in new orleans this time of year. you know that. pretty cool straight up dough. we use a little bit of eggs, flour, butter, little bit of honey, cinnamon sugar . got that dough proofed and ready to go. we like to stuff it with cream cheese. i'll have you, miss kathie, just take this piping bag right here. we rolled out this dough. we'll go ahead and pipe a little line about right here on top of that dough, all the way across . this is going to ensure moisture and give you sort of something a little added -- something special.

    >> and over here, we're going to go ahead and roll this. a little jelly roll and stuff it, keep going, keep going, keep going. egg wash and pinch and crimp and pinch and crimp and pinch and crimp. got that? and we sort of form that and bring it back around and i call this the anaconda. it will proof and we proof a second time. egg wash it and bake it in the oven. he wa i want you to drop this in here. this is how we cover the sugar. screw that on there real quick while we're finishing it over here. a little more might do it. we make our own purple, green and gold sugar. so justice, power and faith. that's what we do in new orleans . everything has some kind of latch to history and is symbolic. we'll finish it off. we have one fool fully proofed, and fresh baked out of the oven. you see how beautiful that mahogany color is.

    >> beautiful.

    >> a little bit of that -- you can go ahead and use that. we put it right on the top.

    >> kind of messy on purpose.

    >> kind of messy on purpose.

    >> perfect cake for you.

    >> very forgiving. and here we have got a quick way to do it, a little bit of seminole dough ready to rock. shingle them all together.

    >> shingle them.

    >> like that. like roof shingles, you know? sort of decorate that, go all the way around. just random. and then you see that finished ready to go dough. you're going to go ahead and bake that like it says to do. finish it with a little bit of -- just follow the instructions, but you've got a fun, quick, easy way that you're not worrying about proofing and baking and things like that.

    >> we got to give a shoutout. this is for you. this is from one --

    >> thank you.

    >> a lot of fun.

    >> these are shoe box --

    >> floats we did them as kids in new orleans . it is a tradition today. we're locking in with an elementary school and having them do it this year to have them decorate for mardi gras .

    >> i love them. a lot of fun. what are you doing for mardi gras ?

    >> a huge block party in front of the restaurant. 300 people. amazing. parade right there. our parade punch. all kinds of fresh fruit juices and white rum to get the --

    >> get it started.

TODAY recipes
updated 2/24/2014 4:59:54 PM ET 2014-02-24T21:59:54

Recipe: Parade punch

  • 3 cups orange juice, fresh squeezed
  • 4, 6-ounce pineapple juice (from can)
  • 1-2 liters lemon-lime soda
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grenadine
  • 1.5 - 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 splash cava or champagne

Combine all ingredients and reserve in refrigerator. To serve, add 1.5 to 2 ounces of white rum to a 16-ounce Mason jar with ice. Next, add 8 ounces of punch base, dump into a tumbler and shake. Next, pour all contents back into the jar and finish with a splash of cava or champagne. This punch base will make approximately 15-16 drinks.

Recipe: Easy brees king cake

  • 1, 12.4 ounce can Pillsbury® Cinnamon Rolls with Icing
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 package food coloring [purple, green and yellow]
  • 3, 8 ounce Mason jars

Preheat the oven according to package instructions. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and remove the rolls from the packaging. Gently press down each roll so that they overlap by an inch, creating an oval cake. Place the cake in the oven and bake per package directions.

While baking, take three 8 ounce Mason jars with lids and fill halfway with granulated sugar, about 1/2 cup in each jar. Put 3-4 drops of green food coloring in one jar and repeat with purple and yellow food coloring in the other two jars. Reseal and shake until color is evenly distributed.

Recipe: The original "BB" king cake

  • For cake:
  • 1, .25-ounce package dry-active yeast
  • 1/4 cup milk, warmed to the touch
  • 1 cup + 6 tablespoons bread flour [plus extra for rolling]
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • .5 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • .25 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 plastic baby figurine (to hide in the cake), optional
  • For egg wash:
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • For cinnamon sugar:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons brown cinnamon
  • For cream cheese filling:
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 vanilla extract
  • 1/4 lemon extract
  • For icing and decoration:
  • 2 cups confectioners
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup, light
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • .25 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sugar
  • Green food coloring
  • Gold or yellow food coloring
  • Purple or red and blue food coloring

For the cake:

Whisk the yeast with the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer until dissolved. Add the 6 tablespoons of bread flour and the honey and, using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until fairly smooth (there will still be a few lumps) for 30 seconds to 1 minute, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.

Once the dough has doubled, add 3/4 cup of the remaining bread flour, the cake flour, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and almond extracts and salt. Mix on low speed until combined, then switch to a dough hook, increase the speed to medium, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and begin adding 4 tablespoons of the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well between additions. Continue to knead until the dough forms a slack ball, about 2 to 3 minutes. It will ride the dough hook, be tacky and not slap the bottom of the bowl, but it should generally come together into a loose mass. If the dough doesn't come together, continue kneading while adding up to 3/4 cup of the reserved bread flour, until it does.  

Grease a large bowl with a half tablespoon of the remaining butter and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning it over in the bowl to coat with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel and place in a draft-free spot until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and grease the parchment paper with the remaining butter. Generously flour your work surface using the remaining 1/4 cup of bread flour (if you used the bread flour in the dough, dust your work surface with more bread flour). Turn the dough out onto the work surface and sprinkle the top with some flour. Use your hands to press and flatten it into a rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a half-inch-thick strip that is about 24 inches long by about 6 inches wide. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Next, pipe in a quarter-inch thick line of the cream cheese filling (see recipe below) from a bag using a plain, round-tip in a straight line an inch from the edge of the dough. Roll the dough over cream cheese filling and continue to roll all the way up, like a jelly roll. Pinch the edge to the body of the dough to seal, turn the dough so it lies horizontally on your work surface and gently roll it on your work surface to even out any bulges and create a somewhat consistent 1.5-inch-wide rope. Bring the two ends of the dough together and pinch them into one another to seal. Carefully transfer the dough oval or circle to the prepared sheet pan. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set in a warm, dry spot to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

For the cream cheese filling:

Combine cornstarch with sugar in a bowl. Add the cream cheese to the bowl of the floor mixer and using the paddle attachment, beat for 1 minute. Add the reserved sugar mixture and beat on medium-high until smooth (scraping down the sides of the bowl). Add extract with eggs slowly until smooth.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. To make the egg wash, whisk the egg and the milk together in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over the top and sides of the dough, and bake the king cake until golden and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, make a small slit in the bottom of the cake and insert the baby figurine, if using. Set on a rack to cool completely.

For the icing and decoration:

While the cake cools, make the icing. Whisk the confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, milk and vanilla together in the bowl of a stand mixer on low speed until smooth and completely incorporated. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel until you are ready to glaze the cake.

To make the colored sugar, measure 1 cup of the sugar into each of 3 resealable quart-size plastic bags. Add 4 drops of green food coloring to one bag, 4 drops of gold or yellow food coloring to another bag and 4 drops of purple food coloring to the last bag. Seal each bag and then vigorously shake to combine the sugar and food coloring.

Spoon the icing over the cooled cake. Immediately after icing, decorate with the tinted sugar. I like to alternate colors every 2.5 inches, but you can also divide the cake into 3 sections and apply one color to each section. Slice and serve immediately or store in a cake box or on a baking sheet placed within a large plastic bag (unscented trash bags work well) for up to 2 days.

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