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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Three Kings Day and Cake Recipe

Three Kings Day is celebrated January 6. Also known as epiphany Spain as well as many Latin American countries do not celebrate December 25 as the day that children are given gifts. It is instead January 6th or Three Kings Day that is celebrated with gifts it is the same day that commermorates the wise men coming to see baby Jesus and bring their gifts of three.

Children put shoes stuffed with grass for the king's camels under their beds. The grass is replaced with gifts left by the three kings the next morning. On this day as well a feast is prepared. An oval wreath shaped sweetbread decorated with candied fruit with a plastic figurine of the baby Jesus is hidden inside. The baby jesus being hidden in the cake symbolizes the real baby Jesus hiding from king Herod.

King Cake
Recipe adapted from All Recipes

1/2 cup half and half
2 T butter
1 package active dry yeast (.25 ounce)
1/3 cup warm water (approx 110 degrees F)
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour plus more for rolling
Zest of 1 lemon

Scald half and half over medium heat, remove from heat and add butter.  While mixture cools, stir together warm water, yeast and 1 T of the sugar in bowl of a stand mixer and let stand until foamy.  When half and half mixture is cooled, add to yeast mixture.  Add remaining sugar and egg and beat until well incorporated.  Add salt, nutmeg and flour one cup at a time.  Stir in lemon zest and switch to dough hook attachment.  Knead with dough hook for about 5-7 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.  It will still be fairly sticky.  Oil a deep bowl and transfer dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until doubled in size. 

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 T cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup melted butter
2 T bourbon
1/2 cup raisins

Combine bourbon and raisins in a small bowl and set aside.  Mix together brown sugar, cinnamon and flour and then stir in melted butter. 

Punch down dough and turn out onto a heavily floured surface.  Roll dough out into a large rectangle about 12x16 inches.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread filling mixture over dough in a thin layer leaving about a one inch edge free around the whole rectangle.  Drain raisins and sprinkle over filling.  Begin rolling dough like a jelly roll from the wide edge.  Roll tightly and transfer to baking sheet.  Form dough into an oval, seam side down and pinch edges to seal.  Using a sharp knife or cooking scissors, cut slices into top of dough about every two inches approximately 1/3 of the way through dough.  Cover with a towel and let rise an additional 45 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake approximately 30 minutes until golden brown. 

2 cups powdered sugar
2 T lemon juice
2 T half and half
3/4 cup demerara sugar
Food coloring in green, yellow and purple

Whisk together powdered sugar, lemon juice and half and half until smooth.  Pour over cooled king cake.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar and a couple drops of yellow food coloring and stir together.  Transfer to a small bowl or plate.  Add 1/4 cup sugar and a couple drops of green food coloring and stir together.  Transfer to a small bowl or plate.  Add last cup of sugar and purple food coloring and stir to combine.  Sprinkle sugar over icing as desired.

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