Today is Mardi Gras, so I wanted to share this Three Kings Cake recipe along with a little history. This cake has a long and interesting background, and is typically made for Mardi Gras. It is tradition to hide a plastic baby doll inside the cake, which reminded me of the British tradition of hiding charms inside Christmas Puddings; sure enough, that custom has roots in the “Twelfth Night” cake which evolved into today’s Three Kings Cake.
Now that you know a little of the origin of the Three Kings Cake, here is a recipe to try your hand at it. After all, if cake has been around for over 300 years, it must be good!
Recipe courtesy Country Crock.
1 envelope dry active yeast
1/4 cup water (about 125°)
2/3 cup Country Crock® Spread, divided
1/3 cup milk
3 whole eggs, divided
4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup PLUS 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. grated orange peel
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 egg yolk
Dried fruit and candied cherries for decoration
Combine yeast with warm water in medium bowl and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/3 cup Country Crock® Spread, milk and 2 whole eggs; set aside.
Combine 3 cups flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar and salt in large bowl. Stir orange peel into yeast mixture then stir into flour mixture until dough forms.
Knead on floured surface until dough is smooth, but slightly sticky, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to large lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/3 cup Spread with confectioners sugar in medium bowl until creamy. Stir in remaining 1 cup flour and egg yolk until smooth. Cover and chill until ready to use.
Knead dough on floured surface a few times. Roll dough into log, then form large circle on greased baking sheet. Brush ends with water to seal. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with no-stick cooking spray and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Arrange rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat remaining whole egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush dough with egg wash. Form strips with chilled confectioners sugar dough and arrange along with dried fruit and candied cherries into dough to decorate, then sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Bake 35 minutes or until bread is golden brown.
Remove to wire rack to cool.