When I think of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday, I think of two things. One: Why do I never think in advance to travel down south for a little bit of Mardi Gras fun? And two: King cake. The cake, which takes its name from the Biblical three kings, is associated with pre-Lent celebrations and Mardi Gras traditions.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that's a good thing. Why, you ask? Well, most of my friends try to give up bad food habits for Lent. Don't yours? News flash girls: King cake is HORRIBLE for you at roughly 380 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving.
Miserable, I know. Go ahead, call me a downer. Let's take a look-see at the breakdown for Sandra Lee's recipe for king cake, and you'll see what I mean:
What you'll need:
- 1 can of breadsticks
OK, stop right there. Any cake that starts off with a can of breadsticks already is headed for disaster. Bread does NOT equal cake. If you're wondering, Sandra Lee recommends Pillsbury breadsticks, and for the record, there are 140 calories and 2.5 grams of fat in the breadsticks alone. I will now proceed:
- 1 (1-inch) heat proof plastic baby
... For the unaware, the plastic baby is supposed to represent baby Jesus. The baby is traditionally baked into the king cake, and the lucky person who finds it is given the awesome privilege of buying next year's cake! Sounds like a nuisance to me.
- 1 (12-ounce) can whipped cream cheese
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Green, purple, and yellow sanding sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Open the breadsticks. Take two sticks and press the ends together to make one long stick. Repeat this procedure with the remaining breadsticks, giving you a total of six long sticks. Then, using three long sticks at a time, loosely braid the sticks together.
3. Leaving a hole in the middle, coil the braids around one another in a circular form on the baking sheet. Press the ends together.
I enjoy braiding. Making this sounds fun. But still, right now it sounds to me like we have a loaf of bread, not a cake, doesn't it? At least we're not at the overly-fatty-making-me-cringe part ... yet.
4. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until golden. Allow bread circle to cool. Then, insert the baby into the cake between the creases of a braid.
Are you ready for it? Because this is where it gets yummy fatty:
5. In a medium-sized pot, combine the heavy cream and cream cheese frosting. Stir constantly and heat until smooth and warm. Top your bread ring with the glaze, and add the sanding sugars in a festive pattern.
So is it just me, or does king cake sound like a use of calories gone wrong? If you want cake, then eat cake. Not saying that Sandra Lee's recipe doesn't taste good, because well, I'm sure it does! Call me a true baker (mom, it's OK to laugh here), but something about starting from scratch is important to me. So with that said, my suggestion for the perfect king cake -- fat and calories included? I'm thinking a stop at the local bakery is in order.
Will you be eating king cake this week?
Image via carmichaellibrary/Flickr