A Fat Tuesday staple that often gets overlooked is the king cake.
King cake season started with Epiphany on Jan. 6, so you can eat it any time until Lent starts on Ash Wednesday. This year, that is Feb. 10. The king cake takes its name from the biblical three kings.
Traditionally whoever gets the tiny baby — which represents the baby Jesus — in their piece of king cake buys the next one, which makes a great excuse for another cake, so the celebration just keeps rolling along.
1 16-ounce container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
Purple, green, and gold tinted sparkling sugar sprinkles
Note: This recipe, from Southern Living, advises to put a plastic baby in after you bake the cake. Or use a dried bean to represent the baby.
Cook sour cream, sugar, butter and salt in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside and cool mixture to 100 to 110 degrees.
Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 41/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22-by-12-inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle.
Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam-side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.
Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Bake at 375 degrees for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes).
Make glaze by stirring together sugar, butter, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.
Drizzle glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.
Yield: Makes two cakes.