I needed something to make for our Mardi Gras celebration, and had seen these Mini King Cakes in my King Arthur Flour catalog. They looked perfect for the occasion.
The tradition of king cake dates back to the Middle Ages when a popular devotion during Christmas was placed on the Three Wise Men (or Kings) who followed the North Star to find Christ. The twelfth night after the birth of Christ marks the end of Christmas and the celebration of Epiphany. Thus, Twelfth Night in some cultures became a time for pageants and giving special presents to children. Along with gifts came the celebratory cake, or king cake.
I used Fiori di sicilia extract for the icing as it had the perfect citrusy undertones that the bread has. If you don’t have any, vanilla extract would work fine. I also tinted the icing with a little yellow food coloring. I made my mini king cakes in the mini-panettone papers which worked out fine as they get quite high. You can always use muffin cups. The lemon bits also called for in the recipe are also from King Arthur Flour.
- ½ c. (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
- ¾ c. lukewarm milk
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
- ¼ c. sugar
- ¼ c. nonfat dry milk
- 1-1/4 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp lemon oil, or 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 3-1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2-1/2 tsp instant yeast
- ½ c. Lemon Bits or lemon chips, optional
- 1 c. confectioners' sugar
- ½ tsp Fiori di sicilia extract or vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp + ½ to 1 tsp milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze
- yellow, purple, and green sparkling sugars
- Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients to make a smooth, soft dough. If using an electric mixer, knead for 10 minutes. If using a bread machine, put on the required setting to knead and rise dough only.
- Put dough in a greased bowl, and let the dough rise, covered with a damp tea towel , for 1 hour.
- Place 12 mini-panettone papers on a baking sheet. Or line a standard muffin pan with cupcake papers, and grease the papers.
- With greased hands, divide the sticky dough into 12 equal pieces, forming each into a smooth ball.
- Place the balls of dough into the papers. Cover the pan, and let the cakes rise for 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Whisk the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and brush it over the cakes.
- Bake the cakes for 20 minutes, then tent them lightly with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until they're a deep golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.
- Beat together the icing ingredients, dribbling in the final teaspoon of milk until the icing is thick yet pourable.
- Dip the top of each cake in the icing, or drizzle icing over the tops of the cakes. While the icing is still tacky, sprinkle with the colored sugars.
These smell absolutely fantastic when baking. They have a citrus tone to them, as they have lemon peel and lemon bits in them. Short of being in New Orleans, they are next best thing!