The voice in my head was loud and clear. And determined as well.
“Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler, Laissez les bons temps rouler!”
“Let the good times roll!”
One of the most quoted sayings at this time of year, Mardi Gras. Yeah, we’ll get those good times rolling. And because it’s Mardi Gras, that means starting with a good ol’ King Cake, a tradition as strong as that Christmas fruitcake that you’re using for a doorstop right about now. So thinking my best purple, green and gold thoughts, I decided to listen to those voices in my head, and “grill me a King Cake”.
First things first, you have to make a good bread dough. I realize that there are a multitude of dough recipes out there, and everyone has their favorite, so whatever you want to do is fine by me. The important thing is to make one using quality ingredients, namely real milk and real butter.
Let it rise in a nice warm place, with warm thoughts, for a good ninety minutes, or as long as you need, and it’ll come out of that bowl looking something like this.
After being floured and kneaded just a bit more, and then punched down, the dough is split into two equal pieces, and rolled out into a couple of long, oblong pieces, each one looking something like this.
King Cake needs a filling, and wanting to stay on a traditional level, I made a filling consisting of cream cheese (8oz), powdered sugar (1/2 cup), brown sugar (1/2 cup) and cinnamon (1 tsp). Mix the cream cheese and the powdered sugar in one bowl,
And then the brown sugar and cinnamon in another.
Channeling your inner Rembrandt, paint that cream cheese mixture on the two flats of dough, covering everything, including the edges.
Now be happy that it’s Mardi Gras, and toss the sugar cinnamon on top of the cream cheese art that you just made while yelling “Aiyeeeeeee”. Good coverage counts. It’ll pay off later.
Roll those dough flats up starting with the long sides, until you have two tubes filled with cream cheese and cinnamon sugar.
Then, you have a couple of choices. Join the two lengths in a circle on a cookies sheet, or as I prefer, join them together in a circle in a cast iron pan.
Set the pan back into a warm place for another hour or so for yet another proofing. Cover with a damp towel to keep the dough ring from drying out.
Meanwhile, it’s time to fire up the grill, for this is Mardi Gras time, and that to me means doing what you love, and man, I love to grill. Set it up for about three hundred fifty degrees and indirect cooking. And now, with a few moments of backyard guy and grill time, it’s time to crack open that manly Mardi Gras beverage that you’ve been icing down.
While enjoying that beverage, go ahead and listen to that music that has been playing in your head. It’s all about the parades, the singing, and the dancing in the streets. I closed my eyes and waited for someone to throw a strand or two of beads my way, but well, standing in a Midwest backyard around a grill at Mardi Gras time just doesn’t lend itself to this. So back at it. Put the puffed up dough ring on the grill and cover it up.
I checked on the King Cake about twelve minutes in, and it looked pretty good.
In fact, I remember thinking to myself at this point, “Hey, this might just work“. And then I threw in a little of the ol’ Cookin’ Cajun wisdom. “I gar-on-tee”
The cinnamon sugar aroma filled the backyard, and the anticipation of this grilled cake was almost unbearable. After the twenty-minute mark, the cake was removed from the grill and set in a safe place, meaning out of reach so I wouldn’t be tempted to snack.
While the cake is still warm, it’s time to mix powdered sugar (1 cup), vanilla extract (1 tsp), and milk (3-4 tsp) in a bowl until smooth, and then pour this glaze evenly over the top ridge of the cake ring. Finish it off with the familiar colored sugar stripes that say Mardi Gras King Cake, gold, green and purple.
And about that art project that was painted on and rolled up inside this cake? Yeah, it shows up well.
Adding in a bit of Mardi Gras swag, including the traditional baby, never hurts, so we got just a bit more festive.
“Because Life Is Better Wood Fired” or if you prefer, “Parce que la vie est meilleure feu de bois”