PROVO, UT, February 23, 2014—Mardi Gras is in full swing along the gulf coast and with it comes feasting and reveling that culminates in the grandest frenzied fête of all on fat Tuesday. This often months long celebration was brought to the Americas by French colonials whose descendants have maintained elaborate traditions replete with eating, drinking, and merry making for hundreds of years.
As early as November, mystic societies or krewes convene meetings, balls, and parties to plan their parade floats and throws. Throws run the gamut from thousands of bead necklaces, Mardi Gras coins, stuffed animals, feather boas, candy and even the occasional coconut that are tossed into the exuberant crowds. The key phrase in Louisiana is, “Hey throw me something mister,” and the cuter and smaller the requester, the better the prizes they can score.
New Orleans is often associated with histrionic debauchery fueled Mardi Gras festivities in the minds of many non-Louisianans, but even the Big Easy has a kid safe parade or two. Many towns throughout the gulf coast region throw family-friendly versions that are safe for young and old alike and do not require any level of exhibitionism.
Mardi Gras finds its origins in the celebration of important dates in the Catholic faith. Lest the spiritual significance be forgotten in all of the partying, we have the king cake to remind us. The origin of the king cake is twofold. Foods rich with butter and eggs are traditionally consumed during Mardi Gras in keeping with the spirit of everything to excess before the sacrificial Lenten period.
It is also representative of the three magi who searched for and visited the infant Christ.
Traditionally in the gulf states, a small plastic baby representing baby Jesus is tucked into cinnamon roll-like dough. The lucky individual who receives the slice with the baby is said to be “king for a day,” although finding the baby can also come with responsibilities such as throwing the next party or buying the next king cake.
This recipe is a cheater’s version for a quick and easy way to bring a little of the Mardi Gras party to your home. Traditional cinnamon sugar filling and a plastic baby are served in coffee cake for a homemade king cake without the fuss of yeast dough baking.
King Cake Coffee Cake
½ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped pecans
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cake batter ingredients:
1 yellow cake mix
3 large eggs
⅓ cup sour cream
⅓ cup vegetable oil
⅔ cup water
3 cups powdered sugar
4-5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 plastic Mardi Gras cake baby
green, gold, and purple colored sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray. Coat it well so the cake does not stick.
Make the cinnamon sugar filling by combining the filling ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well, and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine cake batter ingredients. Beat on low for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides then beat on high for 2 minutes.
Pour half of cake batter into Bundt pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling mixture over the cake batter in the Bundt pan and drop in the baby. Be sure the baby is not close to the sides of the pan. Pour in the rest of the cake batter.
Bake the cake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted pick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes then invert the cake on to a plate.
Allow the cake to cool completely before icing. To make the icing, stir the milk and almond extract into the powdered sugar. The icing should be very thick and just pourable. Drizzle icing over the cake slowly to coat as much of the surface as possible. Sprinkle the iced cake with bands of green, gold, and purple colored sugar.
Serve and enjoy your own little slice of Mardi Gras.
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