New Orleans King Cake Recipe

Purple to signify justice, gold for power, and green for faith are the colors of Mardi Gras. Bands of colored sugar or sprinkles in these colors always decorate King cake.

For the cake:
1 package active dry yeast
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2/3 cup warm milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons softened butter
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 pecan half, bean, or trinket

For the frosting:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Colored sprinkles

For the cake: In a small bowl, mix the yeast and sugar with 1/2 cup of warm water. Set aside for 10 minutes. Then in the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer, combine it with the warm milk, salt, cinnamon, butter, egg, and 1 cup of flour. Mix for 4 to 5 minutes or until it looks pale and stretchy. Cover with plastic and set in a warm spot for 1 hour.

Stir the dough and beat in the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until it can be handled but is elastic. Knead or mix for 5 minutes. Hide the trinket in it. Cover again and let rise until doubled in bulk. Divide the dough in thirds and make each piece into a 24-inch snake. Braid them together, then form into an oval ring and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk -- about 45 minutes. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the cake for 20 minutes or until it sounds hollow when rapped. Cool it completely.

For the frosting: Mix the lemon juice and vanilla in a bowl. Sift in the confectioners' sugar a little at a time, stirring to make a smooth mixture. When it is a thick pouring consistency, drizzle it over the cake. Decorate with colored sprinkles or sugar.

Serves 10 to 12