Cool temperatures have started. All of a sudden this week, the jacket got pulled from the back of the closet as did the boots. Pretty soon, holiday season will be upon us. While the holiday season pretty much ends on New Year’s Day up here in the northeastern United States, it continues until Spring if you live in Louisiana, where holiday season isn’t officially over until Mardi Gras, also known as King’s Day. Starting with Twelfth Night (the twelfth night after Christmas) until Mardi Gras, King Cake is sold every and any where with its symbols of justice, faith and power. The cake is supposed to honor the three kings, who visited the baby Jesus Christ on the twelfth night. It is often presented with a doll in the center, to represent the child Christ. I am presenting the Zulu style King Cake.
This is actually a sweet bread and is topped with colored sugars. The purple, green and gold represent justice, faith and power, respectively. Instead of the doll, modern versions are often baked with a pecan or a dried bean inside. If you get the pecan or bean, it’s supposed to be good luck.
The traditional version is a sweet brioche style dough with tutti frutti (candied fruit) and a cinnamon pecan filling. Modern versions are now commonly available with cream cheese, peanut butter, coconut and so many more options. One of the most popular modern versions replaces the tutti frutti with chocolate chips. This zulu king cake was created by New Orleans’ Ambrosia Bakery and is one of the most popular modern versions. It’s so popular they have even trademarked it and are the only ones allowed it to sell it as the name Zulu King Cake. Although it may be made the same, others have to sell it as Coconut King Cake or Coconut Chocolate Cake or some other such name. This is why I have named my version of this recipe as Zulu style.
Zulu Style King Cake
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: Serves 16
- 1/2 cup warm water (110 – 115 F)
- 4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar
- 4-5 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (or 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest)
- 1/2 cup warm milk (110 – 115 F)
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons milk (for top)
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons water
Chocolate Sauce Ingredients:
- 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons purple decorating sugar
- 2 tablespoons gold decorating sugar
- 2 tablespoons green decorating sugar
Add 2 teaspoons sugar to the warm water in a bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle yeast on top and wait 5-10 minutes for it to become foamy.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the rest of the sugar, 4 cups of the flour, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest, milk, butter and egg yolks. Mix well.
Add yeast water and knead using dough hook attachment for 5 minutes until soft and elastic, adding up to an additional 1 cup of flour to yield a soft but not sticky dough. I added an additional 2/3 cup.
Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap sprayed with non stick spray. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until doubled in size.
In a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Mix well to thoroughly combine.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with non stick spray.
Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured board, roll out half of the dough to a rectangle, about 9×12″. Spread half of the filling on the dough.
Starting on one of the long sides, roll dough into a cylinder, sealing the edges. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Stretch the cylinders so the are about 18″ in length.
Twist the two cylinders together into a rope. Then twist the rope into a ring. If desired, push a pecan into the dough. Transfer to prepared cookie sheet. Place a coffee can or a jar in the middle of the bread to keep the ring shape. Cover lightly with a towel and leave to rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Brush the top with milk. Bake for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the chocolate sauce. Combine all ingredients and cook over a double boiler, until melted.
Make glaze by combining sugar and water and stir to combine.
As soon as cake comes out of the oven, brush with glaze. Decorate with sugar in a pattern with the three colored sugars.
Drizzle chocolate sauce on top.
If desired, sprinkle with more colored sugars on top of the chocolate.
This is so over the top rich, decadent and delicious. Try this recipe so you can perfect it before Fat Tuesday.