Mardi Gras Baseball Cake

It is officially baseball season.  Basketball has wrapped up for most schools, and spring is in the air.  Time to welcome the return of the baseball mom…

And even if you’re not a “baseball mom”, per se, chances are good that you’re a soccer mom, classroom parent, scout leader,or that you have something to do with kids (otherwise, it’s doubtful you’d be reading this).  And if you do things in support of the youth in your care, then this is right up your alley.

If you are at all familiar with Mardi Gras, then you know that the week-long festivities come to a screeching halt on Ash Wednesday (when all fun is given up for Lent).  The day before Ash Wednesday is “Fat Tuesday” where, in an effort to rid your house of whatever it is you’ll be giving up for 40+ days, you bake, cook, and feast.  One of the highlights of Fat Tuesday is something called a “King Cake”, a brioche-type yeast bread, typically baked in a ring shape with colored sugar sprinkles and icing on top.  The highlight of the King Cake is the finding of the hidden goodie baked inside.  If you are the lucky recipient of the bean, pecan, or the little ceramic or plastic baby, you will have good luck throughout the following year (so legend has it).

So why not make it a tradition to bake a King Cake for your kids that are just starting out their new season?  Nowhere is it written that the King Cake will bring good luck only on Fat Tuesday.  What about opening day?  The first game of the season?  The start of playoffs?  Now you get the picture.

So here’s how you can do it:

Grab the recipe from my recipe page.  Following the directions, make your dough and let it rest until it’s doubled.  While it’s resting, make your filling and have a cup of coffee.  Do not let yeast bread intimidate you.  Just because there’s kneading and resting does not mean it is any harder to make than any other recipe.  There are just lot’s of breaks in between steps, that’s all.

When your dough has doubled in size (about 1.5 to 2 hours), roll it out into a rectangle like so…

This rectangle will be approximately 1.5 by 2 feet and about 1/2 inch thick.  When you have your dough rolled out to about the size of a cookie sheet, slather your filling on in a single layer, leaving a couple of inches from each edge.

At this point, starting at the long edge, roll up the dough into a log shape, like you would if you were making cinnamon rolls.  When you have the dough shaped into a log, form it into an “O”, pinching the ends together, and place on a greased baking sheet.  Tuck your surprise good luck token under the cake to be baked in – a bean, a raisin, a nut, or a plastic or ceramic baby (the baby is traditional, if you have it).  If you have a two pound empty coffee can, grease this and place in the middle of the dough ring.  If you do not have a two pound coffee can, you can use a small mixing bowl, or whatever you can find that will fit the bill.  (Pictured is a Pampered Chef Valtrompia Bread Tube in the shape of a flower, greased well with end caps removed.  Because seriously, who has an empty two pound coffee can just sitting around in the year 2012?)

At this point, you will be letting the dough rest for 45 more minutes which will give you plenty of time to make the icing/glaze.  You can also vacuum your stairs, do a load of laundry, comb the bubble gum out of your five-year-old’s hair, or just have another pot of coffee.

Forty five minutes later, this goes into a 350 degree preheated oven for forty-five minutes of baking.

King Cakes made for Mardi Gras are found with gold, green and purple icing, representing faith (green), justice (purple) and power (gold).  Because this king cake is for a baseball team, the icing was divided into two bowls and colored orange and green for their team colors.  Purple, green and gold king cake purists, cork it.  If you are a Cub Scout leader, this would make an awesome Blue and Gold cake for the yearly banquet!

When done, pluck this cake out of the oven, let it cool, and ice it.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I iced mine all wrong.  For some reason, I thought that pouring the icing/glaze on the cake in four sections would yield the icicle look down the sides of the cake.  All that it did was leave the cake sitting in a large pool of glaze.  So in a second attempt at icing, a serving spoon was used to hastily drizzle the glaze in a zig-zag pattern around the ring and then the entire cake was lifted to another plate so that it was not sitting in a puddle of lemon glaze.  There is enough icing here for two cakes, you could easily halve the icing recipe.

And since the fruits of my labors will go uneaten by the baseball team (their first game has been cancelled due to field conditions), we will have to eat the cake at home and see who gets the lucky pecan!

And we will make another King Cake for another day!

And since there are no photos to share from the game that was scheduled for today, I’ll leave you with a baseball photo from another season…

“Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!”  (Let the good times roll!)  Or maybe I should say “Play ball!”

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