The King Cake has its origins in Three Kings Day, or the feast of Epiphany, Jan. 6, and is served through Fat Tuesday, the beginning of Lent, which falls on Feb. 25 this year. There are many different fillings, but the bright citrus in this one complements the rich dough and the creamy, sweet icing.
The marmalade will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, so you can make it ahead of time. The recipe also yields about 1½ cups, while the cake only calls for 1 cup, so enjoy the extra spread on toast or biscuits. If you can’t get your hands on satsumas, you can substitute oranges, tangerines or clementines, just make sure the volume of chopped citrus is about 3 cups. Or, substitute a high-quality, store-bought brand of orange marmalade.
In keeping with tradition, before you ice it, make a small hole in the bottom of the cake and insert a nontoxic plastic charm or figurine — usually a baby. When the cake is served, whoever gets the lucky slice gets to make next year’s King Cake.
Recipe by Mary Margaret Boudreaux
Photographed by Joe Worthem
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
One ¼-ounce package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 large egg
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Satsuma Marmalade Filling (see recipe at right, or use a store-bought substitute)
2½ ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups powdered sugar
Purple, green and yellow sparkling sugars
In a saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together sour cream, butter, salt and sugar. Cook, stirring until the butter melts. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool to 100°F-115°F, about 15 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sour cream mixture with yeast, water, egg and flour. Beat at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead at medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 table-spoon of flour at a time and continue kneading. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl when kneading is complete. (Or, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead by hand, about 10 minutes. Then transfer to a well-greased bowl.) Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Gently punch the dough down. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 22-inch x 12-inch rectangle. Spread about 1 cup of the Satsuma Marmalade Filling over the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Starting at the long side, carefully roll up the rectangle in a jellyroll fashion. Place seam side down on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bring the ends of the roll together to form a ring. Moisten ends with water and pinch together to seal. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350°F. Uncover the dough ring, and bake 23-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool cake completely on pan, about 1½ hours.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until creamy. Add the milk and vanilla extract, and beat until blended. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Pour the icing evenly over the top of the cooled cake. Sprinkle with sparkling sugars.
SATSUMA MARMALADE FILLING
1½ cups granulated sugar
Scrub and dry the citrus fruit. With a vegetable peeler, strip the zest only from 4 of the satsumas. Slice the zest into thin strips, 1/16 inch in width. Don’t worry if slices are uneven or irregularly shaped. Place zest in a small saucepan, and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, and boil for 30 seconds. Drain zest, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Cut off both ends of each satsuma. Remove the pith and peel. Cut each fruit into quarters, and remove the pithy center and any seeds. Chop quarters into 1- to 2-inch pieces (you should have about 3 cups of fruit), and transfer into a 3- to 5-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 3 cups water, and bring to a boil over high heat.
When the mixture has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, until the mixture has reduced by half.
Add the blanched zest and sugar. Stir to combine, and increase heat to high to bring to a boil. When the mixture has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place a small glass or metal bowl inside a larger bowl, and fill the larger bowl with ice to surround the small bowl.
Continue to simmer orange mixture, stirring constantly, as zest candies and mixture thickens, about 15 more minutes. The marmalade is ready when it is thick enough that a spoon leaves a trail at the bottom of the pan when stirring.
When the marmalade has thickened, transfer to the prepared small bowl. Once marmalade has cooled completely, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Mary Margaret Boudreaux is originally from Madison, Mississippi, and has lived in Oxford since her freshman year at the University of Mississippi, aside from an 18-month adventure in Santa Cruz, California, with her husband and two young boys. She has been baking professionally since 2013, and for friends and family since she was old enough to read a recipe.