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Catholic Recipe: King's Cake

    INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 packages active dry, or cake, yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 2 cups currants
  • 1 cup chopped citron
  • 1 cup chopped candied orange peel
  • 1 bean (king)
  • 1 pea (queen)
  • white icing
  • Details

  • Yield: 2 cakes
  • Prep Time: 4 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • Origin: Western Europe, South America

In all countries of Europe a special cake was baked on January 6 in honor of the Magi. It was called the "Kings' cake" (because the Magi bore the title "three holy Kings"). A coin was put into the dough before baking, and the person who found it in his piece was the "king." In France and French Canada this custom is still practiced. The cake (gâteau des rois) contains a bean and a pea, making the respective finders "king" and "queen" of the feast.

DIRECTIONS

Scald milk in saucepan. Stir in butter, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reserve; cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Stir into above cool milk mixture. Add eggs. Sift 3 cups flour, remaining salt, spices together. Add to milk mixture; beat until smooth. Stir in fruits, peel. Add enough additional flour to form soft dough.

Turn dough out on floured board; knead until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl; brush with shortening. Cover. Reserve to rise in warm place 2 hours, until double in bulk.

Punch down dough. Turn out again on board. Divide dough in 2 parts. Bury a bean and a pea in each part. Shape into rounds. Place in greased 6-8 cup molds. Cover. Reserve to rise 1 hour, until double in bulk. Bake 45 minutes at 375°. Cool on rack. Glaze with thin white icing. Yield, 2 cakes

Recipe Source: Catholic Cookbook, The by William I. Kaufman, The Citadel Press, New York, 1965
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