As a young girl, all six of my brothers and sisters would pile into our family van and drive from San Antonio, Texas to New Orleans. Yes the trek was torturous and we spent most of the trip fighting over what little space we had, but I can still hear the sound of the tires going over the Mississippi Bridge to where my grandmother Mol Mol and great aunt Me Me lived. After each bridge we passed it meant one step closer to music, art, and happiness was just around the corner waiting for us.
For me, Mardi Gras was a time for family and friends to come together to celebrate. It meant crawfish dinners, my aunt Butsie’s pralines that tasted like a little piece of heaven, and of course the kings cake. As a child we rarely had sweets, so any opportunity to eat cake was welcomed.
New Orleans began the tradition of baking a king’s cake in honor of the three kings in the 1870’s. King Cakes are oval-shaped to symbolize the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors - purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside each King Cake.(1)
Since then, I have learned I have a gluten and dairy allergy. My children have multiple food allergies as well. Every year at this time I always see the kings cakes at Whole Foods and it makes me sad that I can no longer enjoy something I loved so much as a child. This year I wanted to share this tradition with my children and decided to make one of my own. I came across this recipe while browsing through the Internet. My son was making orange juice next to me, so I decided to add orange zest into the mix, along with the Bob’s All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. The flavors really complemented each other and the cake was so delicious!
For the Cake
· 1 package dry active yeast
· ¼ cup warm water
· 1 T maple syrup
· 2 ½ cups of Bobs All Purpose Flour
· 1 t. salt
· ¼ nutmeg
· 3 T organic white granulated sugar
· 6 T soy margarine, cut into pieces
· 3 T Egg replacer powder mixed with ¼ T hot water
· ¼ cup milk alternative, plus more for brushing
· Zest from one orange, tangerine, clemintine
For the Filling
· ¾ cup of dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar and it was fine)
· ¼ cup dairy-free margarine
· ½ cup chopped pecans
· ½ t cinnamon
For the Sprinkles
· Unrefined Cane Sugar (about 1 ½ cups)
· Yellow, Green, and Purple India Tree vegetable food dye
For the Icing
· 1 ½ cup confectioners sugar
· ½ t salt
· 3 T warm water
How to Prepare Cake
1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the yeast, warm water and maple syrup, mixing gently until the yeast dissolves and bubbles begin to appear on the surface. Set aside until frothy, about 5 minutes.
2. Combine the flour, salt, nutmeg and sugar in a food processor. Add the soy margarine and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add this mixture to the yeast, along with the Egg Replacer mixture and coconut milk. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until a soft dough forms. Place in an oil coated bowl, cover for 1 hour, or until the dough is doubled in bulk.
3. Next, make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, soy margarine, chopped pecans and cinnamon.
4. To make the sprinkles you will need three small bowls; mix about ½ cup of sugar in each with just a few drops of desired food coloring. Mix well until desired color is achieved. Set aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly oil a large baking sheet or a round pizza pan.
6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle about 1/8” thick. Using a floured bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the dough in half, lengthwise. Cut each strip into triangles, each about 3 inches at their base. (Think of a zipper or zigzag pattern when you cut, alternating the tops of triangles with the bases.) With the tips of the triangles pointed inward, place the triangles in a circle on the prepared sheet, overlapping one over the other and pressing the edges to seal. Place an even amount of the filling on the centers of the triangles, and place the baby or dried bean somewhere on the filling. Fold the outsides of the triangles over the filling, so that the reach just over the filling. Fold the tips over, pressing slightly to adhere the tips to the outside of the ring. Cover the ring lightly with a paper towel or clean dish towel, and let rise for 20 minutes more.
7. Brush the cake lightly with coconut milk or soy milk. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire cooling rack, and then transfer the cake to a serving platter.
8. Prepare the Icing in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk together the confectioners sugar and salt. Add the warm water and stir until the mixture is a very thick glaze. Ladle the mixture over the cake in several additions, letting the icing run down the sides. While the icing is still slightly warm, sprinkle the prepared sprinkles over the cake, alternating sections of purple, green and yellow. Allow the icing to harden completely before serving.