Mardi Gras King Cakes

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History behind the King Cake…

As part of the Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. This is referred to as the Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings called “A King’s Cake.”

Inside every cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved through time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.

Originally, King Cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today’s King Cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the “baby” is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.

In more recent years, some bakeries have been creative with stuffing and topping their cakes with different flavors of cream cheese and fruit fillings.

January 6, the Twelfth Night after Christmas, is also the day our Mardi Gras season begins. Mardi Gras Day is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday (Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday).

Soooooo…. In anticipation of the Mardi Gras spirit, you can follow this delicious recipe & make your own KING CAKES for your next Mardi Gras celebration!!

Here’s what you will need:
PASTRY:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • FILLING:
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • FROSTING:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Directions

    1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
    2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
    3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
    4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
    5. To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
    6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. When both are rolled, twist the rolls together and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, form into a circle, and seal the edges together. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

    Twist the 2 parts together

    Join ends of twisted dough

    7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Add pruple, green, and yellow sugar crystals to garnish~

    Bake for 30 minutes

    Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!

    ~Let the Good Times Roll~

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    Valentine’s Day Cupcake Bouquets!

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    We know roses are a Valentine’s Day classic, but if you are looking to do a little something out of the box pot (lol), then try these cute Cupcake Bouquets!  These are super easy to make, and with a little creativity, your gift will be the talk of your guy (or gal’s) friends~

    This bouquet literally only takes 15-20 minutes!  Here’s how to make your very own….

    Supplies 

    Planter

    Styrofoam ball

    Green tissue paper

    Wooden Skewers (or toothpicks for mini cupcakes & smaller bouquets)

    Baked Cupcakes (mini & regular sized)

     

    Let’s get started!

    First, you want to make sure your styrofoam ball fits snugly into your planter.  Wrap the ball in a sheet of green tissue paper and place inside.  For a little added security, you can even use a little hot glue to secure the ball to the planter.  Do this ahead of time & please make sure the cupcakes are not in your craft area!! Hot Glue + Cupcakes= FAIL!

    Next, decide on your placement of skewers and/or toothpicks, and insert them into the styrofoam ball.  If you are using toothpicks, make sure you use 2 per cupcake to keep secure. Just make sure the toothpicks are close enough for the cupcake to fit.  Any design you select will end up looking like a flower arrangement, so try not to worry too much about getting it perfect.

    Continue by placing the full-sized cupcakes on your toothpicks or skewers first.  You will then be able to fill in the spaces with the mini cuppies.

    You can frost your cupcakes before or after you have placed them on the skewers.  If this is your first time, I would frost after you are satisfied with the placement. If you decide to frost the cupcakes ahead of time, start decorating your bouquet from the bottom and work your way up.

    Make sure pre-decorated cupcakes have had a chance to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to decorating.

    Do not use super moist cupcakes for your boquets, as they will be very difficult to stay on your skewers.  Same concept for your frosting.  Very soft frosting has a tendency to move or “run” when the cupcakes are at an angle.

    Tie a pretty bow around your planter and be amazed at your fantastic creation!

     

     

    New Year’s Cupcake Idea: Champagne Cupcakes

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    Looking for a sweet treat to help you ring in the New Year? Champagne goes with everything, so why not try Champagne Cupcakes?!?  No need to break the bank buying Cristal for this fun recipe, a good ole bottle of Andre will do the trick!  As an added bonus, you could always use the rest for one of my faves…. MIMOSAS!

    Here’s a fairly simple recipe you can try to kick off the festivities:

    Champagne Cupcakes

    2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

    3 tsp. baking powder

    1 tsp. salt

    2/3 cup butter

    1 1/2 cups white sugar

    3/4 cup champagne (the sweeter the better – even strawberry would be great!!)

    6 egg whites

     

    Champagne Buttercream

     3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (more or less to taste)

    1 cup butter, at room temperature

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    3 tablespoons champagne, at room temperature

    3-4 drops of red food coloring (also optional)

    Lets Start Baking~

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Prepare a cupcake pan with liners. 

    In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together, and then blend into creamed mixture alternately with champagne.

    In another large clean bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into batter to lighten it, then fold in remaining egg whites.  Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full.

    Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

    Let’s Start Frosting~

    With an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter. Mix on low until well blended, and then on medium for another two minutes.  Add vanilla and champagne, beating on medium for another minute. You may need to add a little more sugar or liquid depending on how thick or thin you want your frosting.

    Decorate & Enjoy!

    What Makes a Good Cupcake???

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    When I first decided that I wanted to venture into the world of cupcakes, I had to ask myself “What makes a damn good cupcake?”  Now don’t get me wrong.  I completely understand that some things are totally objective.  I get that.  But let’s face it.  There are simply some things that can’t be overlooked.  For the sake of time (and sanity), I will focus on those things. 

    First things first.  The number 1 factor in determining if your cupcakes are good is moistnessThe term moistness simply refers to the freshness & softness of your dessert.  No one wants to eat a cupcake (or any cake for that matter) that is dried out.  There is no one single method of obtaining the most moist cupcake ever, but I’ve heard a few tips in my baking career that I don’t mind sharing.  Tip 1: Dont overbake the cupcakes.  A baking thermometer can help with this. Remember:  Cupcakes continue to bake in the pan after you take them out of the oven, so please plan accordingly. Tip 2:  Minimize your cupcake’s exposure to the air.  I like to store my cupcakes (at home) in an air tight Tupperware style cake plate or cupcake tray. Tip 3:  Increase the fat content, whether oil, shortening, or butter. Liquid fats tend to work really well to keep moisture, hence why oil is included in your moistest cake recipes.

    Secondly, “Good Cupcakes” must have a good flavor.  The flavor of the actual icing on your cupcake is just as important as the cupcake flavor itself.  Now flavors don’t necessarily have to be complex in order to be “good”, but the flavors must be clean, distinct & complementing.  Have fun with your flavors! Don’t be afraid to experiment & try new things, but just make sure those who have to eat your cupcakes can recognize the flavors that they are eating.  They need to taste like what they are supposed to taste like.  If your cupcake has a strawberry based flavor, people should recognize that they are eating something that taste like strawberries.  Good flavor combinations will feel like a party in your mouth! 

    Lastly, good cupcakes (especially when you are presenting them to the public) need to look good.  Thats right.  Appearance can make or break your cupcakes.  If they don’t look good, no one will want to eat them.  Good color combinations of your icing and decorations is important.  Make sure the colors complement each other, or compliment the theme you are going for. If you want to keep your frostings & decorations simple, you can always use decorative cupcake liners to spice things up a bit. 

    What do you think?  What would you add to my top 3 things?  Let’s hear it!

    ~Peace. Love. Cupcakes.

    Hello Cupcake!

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    Welcome to She Makes Cupcakes! I am excited about my new blog and everything I have in store for you. Feel free to share all experiences related to cupcakes. Here you will find recipies, photos, decorating tips and reviews on everything related to cupcakes. Oh, and if you want to see anything else featured on your new favorite blog… just ask!

    ~Peace.Love.Cupcakes.