Happy Epiphany of the Lord! Some groups, mostly further south than I am, celebrate Epiphany to Twelfth Night (I think I have that right) with a series of parties, and those parties involve Kings’ Cakes. I believe the tradition stared in New Orleans, with Mardi Gras.There are three colors traditionally on this cake, gold, green, and purple, stand for those three kings’ gifts’ attributes (power, faith, justice, respectively). So, I guess there are four kings involved in the name, as the cake is in honor of the three kings’ arrival to visit the baby king, Jesus. The cake traditionally also includes a tiny baby figurine baked into it (often replaced by a dried bean, pea, or a coin) to represent the baby. Whomever gets the baby “carries” him to their house to host the next party (generally the next night!).

Now, some folks make a cakey-cake for this, with a batter. However, most of the recipes I found are for a sweetened yeast bread with sprinkles on top, and that’s what I did. It’s really tasty, and turned out the first time, YAY! So, I hope this graces your Christmas season and pleases your friends. Just try to remember where you stuck the “baby” so you get a night off from hosting ┬áparties afterward :D.

Kings’ Cake


Ingredients

For the Bread:

  • 1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water (yeast activating warm)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 1/2 – 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 1/4 cup baking stevia
  • 3 TBS melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • generous 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

For the glazes and decorations:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 TBS water
  • 2 TBS light agave nectar
  • 2 drops each purple, green, and yellow food coloring (you could try vegetable based dyes if you want, but I used the normal stuff, toxic though it may be :D)
  • 6 TBS Truvia (it has to be Truvia or a nearly identical other brand, you need the sugar-like crystalline structure)

Directions

1. Scald the milk (heat it until the edges just begin the bubble and it gets hot) and let it cool back to lukewarm.

2. Dissolve the honey in the warm water and add the yeast and let it activate. Once the milk is cool enough, add the yeast and eggs and beat well.

3. Next add the baking stevia and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. This should form a dough that is the consistency of a batter. Set this aside to rise under a damp cloth until doubled–it’s called a sponge. This can take as little as 20 minutes or as much as an hour.

4. When the sponge is ready, add the melted butter, vanilla, orange extract, salt, and nutmeg. Mix it well. Add the remaining flour until you have a very soft but workable dough. Turn it out and knead it until smooth and elastic. If you’ve made my cinnamon rolls on this blog this dough should feel similarly soft and slightly sticky.

5. Put the dough in a buttered bowl and lightly brush some additional melted butter over the top (just a tiny bit, even just what’s left in the cup after you pour the other stuff in. It’s just to help it keep moist). Cover again and let it rise until doubled, anywhere from 1-2 hours depending on how warm it is in your kitchen.

6. Turn out the dough and roll it into a rope about 2 inches wide. Put it onto a greased cookie sheet and connect the ends so you have a loop. Pinch them together gently. If you want to push a “baby” into the cake, now is the time to do it. Remember to reseal the dough where you put it in. Set this aside to rise again for about 1/2 an hour, until nearly doubled and puffy.

7. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Beat the egg yolk with the water and brush some over the whole loaf. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped with a fingernail.

8. While this is baking, mix two drops of each color food coloring with 2 TBS of Truvia in a little dish until the Truvia is pretty evenly colored. This should give you yellow, green, and purple “sprinkles.” It’s probably more sprinkles than you need, but the extra can be saved for later. It’s best to do this at the start of the bake time so the sprinkles can dry a little.

9. Immediately after removing the ring from the oven brush the agave nectar all over it (except the bottom) and then apply the sprinkles in stripes of color. Let cool and enjoy!