KING CAKE for MARDI GRAS

So Mardi Gras ends Tuesday and I thought this would be a good time to run this recipe for Mardis Gras King Cake. I threw in some history for you also since King Cake isn’t just for Mardi Gras though that is what it is most famous for these days.  I do have to admit I made this cake a few years back when we were living in Texas during Mardi Gras season though since then I have made it for Epiphany without the Mardi Gras colors and using traditional Christmas colors.

A king cake (sometimes rendered as kingcake, kings’ cake, king’s cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with Mardi Gras and Carnival.

The “king cake” takes its name from the biblical three kings. Catholic tradition states that their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days (the Twelve Days of Christmas), and that they arrived to honor the Christ Child on Epiphany. The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night and Epiphany Day), through to Mardi Gras day. Some organizations or groups of friends may have “king cake parties” every week through the Carnival season.

Related culinary traditions are the tortell of Catalonia, the gâteau des Rois in Provence or the galette des Rois in the northern half of France, and the Greek and Cypriot vasilopita. The galette des Rois is made with puff pastry and frangipane (while the gâteau des Rois is made with brioche and candied fruits). A little bean was traditionally hidden in it, a custom taken from the Saturnalia in the Roman Empire: the one who stumbled upon the bean was called “king of the feast.” In the galette des Rois, since 1870 the beans have been replaced first by porcelain and, now by plastic figurines; while the gâteau des Rois Also known as “Rosca de Reyes” in Mexico.

In the southern United States, the tradition was brought to the area by colonists from France and Spain and it is associated with Carnival, which is celebrated in the Gulf Coast region, centered on New Orleans, but ranging from the Florida Panhandle to East Texas. King cake parties in New Orleans are documented back to the eighteenth century. The king cake of the New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Carnival colors) with food coloring. Cajun king cakes are traditionally deep-fat-fried as a doughnut would be, and there are many variants, some with a filling, the most common being cream cheese and praline. It has become customary in the New Orleans culture that whoever finds the trinket must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party.

Some say that French settlers brought the custom to Louisiana in the 18th century where it remained associated with the Epiphany until the 19th century when it became a more elaborate Mardi Gras custom. In New Orleans, the first cake of the season is served on January 6. A small ceramic figurine of a baby is hidden inside the cake, by tradition. However now, the tradition is giving way to the baby being supplied and the customer placing the baby were ever they wish in the cake. Whoever finds the baby is allowed to choose a mock court and host the next King Cake party the following week (weekly cake parties were held until Mardi Gras).

The classic king cake is oval-shaped, like the pattern of a racetrack. The dough is basic coffee-cake dough, sometimes laced with cinnamon, sometimes just plain. The dough is rolled out into a long tubular shape (not unlike a thin po-boy), then shaped into an oval. The ends are twisted together to complete the shape  (HINT: if you want to find the piece with the baby, look for the twist in the oval where the two ends of the dough meet. That’s where the baby is usually inserted.) The baby hidden in the cake speaks to the fact that the three Kings had a difficult time finding the Christ Child and of the fine gifts they brought.

The cake is then baked, and decorated when it comes out. The classic decoration is simple granulated sugar, colored purple, green, and gold for the colors of Carnival. King cakes have gotten more and more fancy over the years, so now bakeries offer iced versions where there’s classic white coffee cake glaze on the cake before it’s decorated, and even king cakes filled with apple, cherry, cream cheese, or other kinds of coffee-cake fillings.

King cakes are available at bakeries all over South Louisiana, but only after January 6 through Mardi Gras Day.

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which starts on Ash Wednesday. Popular practices also include wearing masks and costumes, overturning most social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades and such. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

This is my version of this yummy yeast bread/cake.

MARDI GRAS KING CAKE (makes 2 cakes)

PASTRY
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup melted butter

FROSTING/GLAZE
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water

  • Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of the 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.
  • When yeast mixture is bubbly, 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.
  • 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.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with SILPATS or parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl 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.
  • Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches).
  • Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side.
  • Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings.
  • Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet.
  • With sharp knife 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.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  • Push the doll into the bottom of the cake.
  • Decorate with beads.
  • Frost while warm with the glaze.

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APPLE PIE SNICKERDOODLES and my new FAVORITE ornament

One of my favorite ALL time cookies is the Snickerdoodle.  One of the most versatile cookies, in my opinion, is the Snickerdoodle. You can change up the flavor for whatever holiday – pumpkin pie spice for fall, apple pie spice for for Christmas or Easter…, decorate or not, but according to hubby plain is BEST. I LOVE this time of year with ALL the baking and fun treats!

I also love that Victoria and Dave send a new unique snowflake in their Christmas card and I just ADORE my new FAVORITE ornament that my friend brought over for me.  She saw it at a boutique and said it reminded her of me – such a sweet thought and absolutely beautiful ornament.

APPLE PIE SNICKERDOODLES
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, beating well after each addition.
  • Gradually add in flour mixture until well blended.

3-4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon apple pie spice

  • Combine sugar and apple pie spice until well blended.
  • Form cookie dough into small balls about walnut sized.
  • Roll each cookie ball in the sugar spice mixture and place on un-greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden.
  • Cool 2 minutes before placing on wire rack to cool completely.
  • Decorations are melted candy bark and sprinkle.

BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 23 ~ FAVORITE STORY & ANECDOTES

This story originally came across my email and I was reminded that it is a beautiful way to celebrate Christmas Holiday spirit so I thought I’d share. This is such a beautiful story that makes you understand that things truly do happen for a reason. Don’t forget to grab the tissue box.

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc… and on December 18th they were ahead of schedule and just about finished.

On December 19th a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc… to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet.. ‘Pastor,’ she asked, ‘where did you get that tablecloth?’ The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.

The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth, but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a house cleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.

The man asked him where he got the Tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike.

He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

This true Story was submitted by Pastor Rob Reid.

 
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

If you need a good Christmas laugh, check out this Jimmy Kimmel Christmas Prank video.

BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 22 ~ PREPARING FOR CHRISTMAS

WOW seems like we just started this journey through BLOGMAS and here we are 3 days until Christmas.  Today and tomorrow are my BIG days preparing for Christmas.  These are the days that I’m mostly in the kitchen or cleaning the house, wrapping last minute packages or running last minutes errands for ingredients for the BIG DAY.  The only thing on my list that I didn’t accomplish was the cleaning so will spend all day tomorrow doing laundry, vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms.

Remember when I told you I was a list girl?  Well, these help – A LOT!  I couldn’t get very good pictures, but those little presents are battery operated lights that change colors (red, blue and green) that I’m going to include on the plate when I deliver the goodies to the neighbors.  The purple list is accomplished and half the green list is done and will be finished up tomorrow and Wednesday.

This is Cinnamon Roll day too – YUMMY! One of my favorite days of the year.  The recipe originally came from one of my favorite aunts who taught me a lot about art, cooking and just plain being creative.  I have made a few minor updates to suit our tastes, but this recipe was ALL her and a secret that my cousin and I kept until the day she died.

ROLLS OF SHARON aka CINNAMON RAISIN BUNS
ROLLS
2 packages Fleischman’s Rapid Rise Yeast
1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup WARM water
1 cup scalded milk (2 minutes in the microwave)
1/2 cup Crisco stick
5 cups flour, divided
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon salt

  • In a small bowl combine the warm water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and both packages of yeast until well blended. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the scalded milk, Crisco stick, 1/2 cup sugar and salt. Blend well.
  • Add yeast mixture and blend well.
  • Add the well beaten eggs and half the flour. Mix until well blended.
  • Add the remaining flour (a little more if too sticky) and mix well until dough leaves the sides of the bowl and is elastic.
  • With vegetable oil, wipe the inside of another bowl.
  • Place dough in bowl and turn once.
  • Cover with wax paper and a towel.
  • Let rest in a warm place until double in size.
  • Punch down and divide into 2 balls.
  • Put one on the pastry board and one back in the bowl.
  • Let rest 10 minutes.
  • While resting prepare the filling ingredients.
  • Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness in a rectangle about 18×24 inches.
  • Spread half the melted butter over the dough and sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar.
  • Spread half the raisins over that.
  • Roll tightly jelly roll style and cut into 18 rolls.
  • Place rolls in greased pans 1/4 to 1/2 inches apart.
  • Cover with wax paper and a towel.
  • Let rise again until double in size.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • While baking prepare the icing.
  • When rolls come out the oven, put globs of icing on each one. Return to the oven for a minute or two to melt icing all over the rolls.

FILLING
1 stick melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon Pumpkin pie spice
1 cup golden raisins

  • Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon until well blended.

ICING
1 stick butter, softened
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon powdered vanilla
4-6 tablespoons milk

  • Mix all together until smooth.

When re-heating rolls, put a pad of butter on top of roll before microwaving.
These freeze really well.

As we get to the end of our countdown I have remembered a few more fun anecdotes.

  • Every year we received a box of See’s candy and I was ALWAYS on the search for the sprinkle coated ones a.k.a. Milk Bordeauxs YUMMY!
  • One year my dad got my mom diamond earrings.  He wrapped them in their original box and then with my brother’s and my help we proceeded to nest these in other boxes (wrapping each box as we went) culminating with a Dishwasher box full of bricks in the bottom – Boy was she surprised and it made for chaotic family fun on Christmas Eve.
  • Another year we built an elaborate scavenger hunt all through the house to lead my dad to his ultimate gift in the garage.

BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 21

Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom ran a meme BLOGMAS 2014.  I did it in 2015 and this year I’m doing it all again to remind me that life is ALWAYS worth the effort.

DAY 1 – YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS TRADITION
This is a really hard category for me.  I LOVE Christmas!  There is nothing about this season I don’t like short of maybe crowds of rude people and Black Friday.  Being a military family on a tight budget I’ve always started shopping early to work everything we want to do into our tight budget.

If I had to pick just one though, it would be putting up the tree as a family while eating leftover turkey (from Thanksgiving) sandwiches.  We usually put our tree up just after Thanksgiving and leave it until Kings Day, the Epiphany on January 6th.  For that reason we like to go cut our own tree so it’s fresh and last the entire time.  I use an apple cider/sugar mix that keeps the sap from forming on the cut area and keep the water cool and full.

When I was a kid we did a BIG family get together with a buffet of food and opening our family presents on Christmas Eve.  I just saw a few of my cousins and we were reminiscing about some of those holidays and LOL how horrible our wardrobes were back then. The first picture here is especially special because it is those grandparent’s house that we are rehabbing now.

Thankfully, I’m not in the bottom picture because I remember what I was wearing! But I love my brother’s plaid pants and Monica’s floral blouse. If you don’t hear from me for a few days I’m Sure it’s because one them found me LOL. 

Then on Christmas Day we did Christmas morning and “Santa” with just the immediate family and then we would do a BIG turkey with all the trimmings including my dad’s stuffing and giblet gravy with all the family as well as extended family, which included crazy Aunt Louise and Uncle Herb, but I’ll tell you more about them on the 10th. I replicated dad’s stuffing recipe a few years ago (Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing) and that is now a MUST for the Christmas meal whatever the meat is and I’ll tell you more about that on the 10th as well.

BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 20 ~ DECORATIONS

With ALL that has been going on this past year I feel just plain lucky to be able to decorate.  So, when it came right down to it I decorated simply and am really happy about it.

Beautiful flowers that my mom sent. 
Our tree with some of our favorite ornaments.  We’ve always used colored lights and I really like how they blend with our ornaments.
I’ve been doing ELF ON A SHELF on instagram for some very special munchkins and this was one of my more favorite days when they made snow angels in powdered sugar.  Actually I silled powdered sugar and the rest fell into place.

BLOGMAS 2016 ~ DAY 19 ~ pictures from PREVIOUS years

I thought about this category a lot and decided that since we were still in transition in the HOUSE FROM HELL our pictures from last year were less than stellar. So I decided to share the pictures from 2014 with you.

These pictures from the  Festival of Lights we used to do each year is now over 20 years old and a great way to kick off the holiday season. It’s ALL Volunteer and NON-Profit.  It began as a fundraiser sponsored by the Rotary Club to help get the city out of debt and then took on a life of its own and now helps with scholarships and special projects. The festival runs every night from Thanksgiving to New Years.  You can drive your own car or take a horse drawn carriage ride through the displays.  They have also coordinated a local radio station to listen to as you view the displays.  The night we went through the fog was moving in early so a few of the pictures look a bit “smoky”.

As of 2014 they had the world’s tallest (41 feet, 16,000 pounds with  working jaw) nutcracker built by a local company, 500,00 lights, 90 animated displays, 3D displays, horse drawn carriage rides through the displays and a Holiday Village with Santa, hot cider with a bake sale and a synchronized light show in the courtyard.  The displays depict fairy tales, the military, patriotism, the local logging industry, local vineyards, local fishing and the traditional Christmas songs and scenes.  People come from all over to see it. Unfortunately for locals, it doesn’t change much, but is still fun every few years.

Three of my favorite munchkins from next door were coincidentally there the same night we were so had to snap a few pictures of the discussions with Santa.

Even the lights with errors turned out cute.  It was difficult to get great pictures or continuous pictures of the animated scenes since there were so many cars behind us.

This snowman is on a corner in our neighborhood hugging a light standard.

BLOGMAS ~ DAY 18 ~ COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS

These are things that I begin right after Thanksgiving, but I thought it was the prompt for today (I think I was looking at last year’s list). I almost feel guilty that almost ALL of them are accomplished.  As for this year’s prompt I do both homemade and store bought depending on what someone wants and/or needs.

BLOGMAS 2016 DAY 17 ~ WISH LIST

I’ve updated last year’s list.

Funny story here – I had herb savers on my Amazon Christmas list for 2 years.  So 2 years ago I decided to buy myself a Christmas present and got the herb keepers so I could quit using a glass covered with a plastic bag.

So, a couple days before Christmas hubby holds up one of the new herb keepers and asks, what’s this?  So I begin explaining what an herb keeper is and he’s like, “No why did you buy them?”  Long story short he was getting them for me for Christmas.

So we had our first Christmas dinner last weekend and long story short the prime rib was more medium than medium rare because my OLD meat thermometers, yes both of them were really old and one failed completely and the other one clouded so it could no longer be read and we ended up with meat cooked a bit more than we like.  The next day I ordered a new digital one from Amazon and last night I pulled it out to test the chicken I was cooking and hubby was like, “where did that come from?” I’m still LMBO, he had gone and bought one for my stocking the day before.

This year we are forgoing BIG gifts and doing stockings only since this house is eating up all our disposable cash so fast! We are planning a trip for late spring to compensate.

BLOGMAS ~ DAY 16 ~ WINTER TAG

DAY 16 { WINTER TAG }

❄ Top 2 Winter Beauty Essentials

  • A NICE HOT SHOWER to relax and clean out the pores.
  • A super moisturizer to keep away dry skin!

❄ Top 2 Winter Fashion Essentials

  • I’m with Sandra on this!  I wait ALL year for it to be cold enough to bring out the boots!
  • Scarves and gloves.  I have color combos to match anything.

❄ Favorite Winter Accessory

  • HATS!!!!

❄ Favorite Winter Nail Polish

  • Red for Christmas, but normally a pinky mauve. I just have too much red in my complexion to pull off many colors.

❄ Hot Cocoa or Apple Cider?

  • Homemade hot cocoa and MUST have marshmallows/

❄ Favorite Winter Candle?

  • Apple and Cinnamon

❄ Snowboarding or Skiing?

  • Neither, but hot cocoa or a hot toddy while watching others is good.

❄ Have you ever gone Ice Skating? Are you any good or do you FAIL miserably?

  • I’ve been, but don’t like the single blade thing much.  I’m much better at roller skating.

❄ Does it snow where you live?

  • Not really, we got one day of snow last year, or rather, one hour of snow and it didn’t stick at all. I can’t wait to be back somewhere it does though.

❄ Have you ever made a snowman?

  • Absolutely!