For once I finally thought to look ahead to find the date for Mardi Gras, so that I could make a Mardi Gras King Cake in time for it. In years past, I never gave Mardi Gras a thought until a day or two before. Without purple, green and gold sprinkles, a plastic baby, or Mardi Gras beads on hand it would always seem way too late to get into making a King Cake.
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When I received the Fillables Cake Pans a few months ago and began to imagine the uses and recipes for it, a King Cake was one of the first I thought of. How perfect to have the little, secret pockets in the cake and to be able to fill one of them with the plastic baby!
A King Cake is part of the Mardi Gras holiday tradition in New Orleans, thought to have been brought to Louisiana by the French. Tradition holds that a toy baby or other trinket be baked into the King Cake, and the person who finds the trinket in their slice is in charge of the King Cake or Mardi Gras party the next year. AND they get good luck.
Well, maybe not always traditionally. But hey, if you just found a baby in your cake then you deserve some good luck as well!
The only challenge I ran into is that a King Cake is traditionally a yeasted bread, rolled up with filling inside and shaped into a ring, similar to a cinnamon swirl bread. The fillings and flavors, which can vary to include fruit, nuts, and cream cheese, remind me of flavors found in coffee cake recipes. Thinking along those lines, this King Cake is made in round cake pans in the style of a coffee cake. It is a batter cake (so no yeast or kneading) scented with nutmeg and bourbon, poured into the pans and baked.
The filling for all but one of the secret pockets created by the Fillables pans is a streusel of toasted pecans, cinnamon and sugar.
The filling between the cake layers is this same streusel mixed into vanilla frosting.
A white glaze tops the whole thing, followed by the vivid sparkling sugar in purple, yellow and green.
And of course, in one of the secret pockets is the little plastic baby floating in a puddle of the three colors of sparkling sugar.
The finished cake is sliced so that the pocket is open to view on both sides of the slice.
Doing this makes it possible for the host to see as they cut and serve slices who will receive the lucky, sparkly, baby-filled slice.
I hope you like my twist on the classic Mardi Gras King Cake using these fun cake pans! The recipe is below.
Also, click here to read my review of Fillables Cake Pans and the two other cakes I have made so far with them!
**Make sure your cake eaters know that there is a plastic baby or trinket inside the cake, so that no one eating the cake bites into it unaware or swallows it by accident. The host or person serving the cake can keep track of its location. When the slice of cake with the baby/trinket is served, make the recipient aware or remove the baby/trinket to give it to them separate from the cake. If you would rather use an edible trinket to eliminate this risk, or for serving to children, consider using a small piece of chocolate, a gumdrop, Swedish fish candy or another small, soft candy instead.
**The ingredients for this cake are grouped by Cake, Streusel and Glaze and some ingredients are repeated in each category. Please read the recipe thoroughly before beginning.
- Fillables 2-Piece 10-Inch round Cake Pans
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached plus extra for flouring the pans
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 5 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons bourbon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups whole toasted pecans*
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and divided
- 1-2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
- 1 or 2 tablespoons milk
- 1-2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 3-4 tablespoons milk
- Green Sparkling Decorating Sugar
- Purple Sparkling Decorating Sugar
- Yellow Sparkling Decorating Sugar
- Small plastic baby (about 1-1/4 inches long) or other trinket that will fit into the pockets of the cake (See note at top about using a plastic baby or trinket in this cake)
- Preheat oven to 350° Grease and flour both of the Fillables cake pans. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend together the 1 cup of butter and 1-1/3 cups of granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the sour cream and blend to combine. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and then mix in the bourbon and vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two or three batches, mixing slowly after each batch until just combined.
- Pour 2/3 of the batter into the cake pan that has the indentations for the secret pockets. Pour the rest of the batter into the other prepared pan. Spread the batter in both pans into even layers.
- Bake both cakes for about 25 minutes: a tester inserted into the centers should come out clean. Place the pans on a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely: about an hour. Run a plastic knife carefully along the inside edge of the pans, then invert the pans to gently release the cakes.
While the cakes bake and cool, prepare the streusel and filling:
Chop the toasted pecans into small pieces. Set aside 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans; place the rest into a medium-sized bowl. Add in the 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and 1/4 cup of the melted butter. Stir to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Set this streusel aside: this will be used to fill the pockets in the cake.
Use a hand or stand mixer to beat together the 1-2/3 cups of confectioner's sugar, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and the remaining 1/4 cup of melted butter. Slowly add in the 1-2 tablespoons of milk until a thick, spreadable frosting forms. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. Cover and set aside.
Place the bottom cake layer with the open pockets onto a serving platter. Fill all but one of the pockets with the brown sugar-pecan streusel, level with the top of the pocket. Into the last pocket place 1 teaspoon each of the green, purple and yellow decorating sugars. Add in the plastic baby or trinket so that it is below the edge of the pocket. To keep track of which pocket has the baby, stick a toothpick into the outside of the cake to mark it. Spread the bottom of the second cake layer with the pecan frosting spreading it all the way to and a bit over the edges of the cake layer. Place this frosting side down over the pocket layer, so that the frosting is between the cake layers. Line up the cake edges so that the scallops align, and very gently press the top layer down so the the frosting peeks out between the layers.
- Pour the glaze over the top, completely covering it. Smooth it with a rubber spatula and push it towards the edges of the cake so that it can drip down the sides. Let the glazed cake sit for about 10 minutes before adding the decor.
- Spoon the green, purple and yellow sparkling sugars onto the top of the cake: you can do stripes of colors or a pinwheel design of colors widening out from the center. Leave white glaze peeking out from between the colors or have the colors bands touching each other: you can really do it up any way you want!
When it's time to serve the cake, remove the toothpick marking the location: if you want, use it to scratch the side of the cake so you will know where the baby is located. Cut the slices down through the center of each petal or rounded-out edge. This way, the filling of each slice will be visible on both sides of the slice. You will be able to see who gets the slice with the baby or trinket, as it tumbles out in a wave of purple, green and yellow sugar!
*To toast your own pecans: Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake the pecans for about 10 minutes until they just start to become fragrant. Remove and allow them to cool long enough to handle.
*I found the decorating sugars at KingArthurFlour.com: click here to see them!
Be creative, curious and festive with food!