Hey, I think it's been almost two weeks since I mentioned that my mom's from New Orleans*. So yeah, did you know that my mom's from New Orleans? (In case you missed it the first five times I said it.) And did you also know what New Orleans is most famous for? Well, actually, now it's probably most famous for that bitch Katrina, but before that, it was most famous for Mardi Gras.
Yes, Mardi Gras. That fabulously bacchanalian festival in which all Catholics (and these days, everyone else of any religious background--ecumenical binge-drinking!) let loose and do all the indulgent, sinful things they aren't allowed to do during Lent. Judging by the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, those things include drinking until you vomit and flashing complete strangers in exchange for cheap plastic beads.
I have never actually participated in that particular aspect of Mardi Gras myself. The last time I attended Mardi Gras, I was four years old, dressed as a clown, and took the elevator in my great-aunt's apartment building down all by myself, thereby sending my parents into full-on panic mode, because then I got off the elevator, and they couldn't find me . . . but they did eventually, and we all lived happily ever after.
So, not exactly Girls Gone Wild material.
However, we always had our own Mardi Gras tradition. A much more innocent, wholesome tradition that involves ingesting pastries dripping with sugar. I speak, of course, of King Cake.
I will not go into the history and symbolism of King Cake, because you can read all of that here. But I will just mention that there is a small plastic baby baked into the cake (symbolizing Jesus, and the person who finds it has to provide the King Cake for the next year) and the cake is actually more like an egg bread and is always covered in diabetes-inducing quantities of sugar in the Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold.
Now that that's out of the way, I would also like to mention that the only King Cakes I had ever had were purchased at a bakery. I have never, ever heard of anyone baking a King Cake themselves. My grandmother, Duchess, would always buy us a King Cake at the bakery a few blocks from her house and have it shipped to us wherever we were living. No one ever, EVER, baked one.
Did I mention ever?
Enter that crazy Yankee, the MiL. She had some extra egg yolks and decided to make a King Cake. Except she said she would just do the bread part of it, and then the icing of it would be up to me, because she could not bring herself to put that much sugar on anything. So I did. Yesterday.
It was a pain in the ass. I only had green and red sugar sprinkles, plus The World's Most Ancient Food Coloring. So I used the green, then mixed some yellow Ancient Food Coloring with white sugar, which looked okay. But purple . . . um, yeah. Not so much purple as a putrid shade of maroon that resulted when I added blue Ancient Food Coloring to red sugar sprinkles. It wasn't quite the color of royalty that I was going for.
The King's Cake appears to have a gnarly skin disease.
But forget how it looks (please). The real question is how does it taste? It tastes fantastic. Especially when you warm it up a little and put a little butter on it. Because there can never be enough butter. It is definitely not as sweet as the King Cakes I'm accustomed to, but that's probably a good thing. NO ONE needs to eat as much sugar as bakeries put on King Cakes.
So, yes, a King Cake can, indeed, be baked in a home kitchen. At least, if the MiL is in that kitchen. It goes without saying that this is probably not something I will ever attempt on my own. I leave these things to the professionals. And if this example of my skill with colored sugars is any indication, I should leave the decorating up to the professionals, as well. I'll just stick to the eating. Works for me.
* And don't forget, in the interest of equality: My dad is from Wisconsin. Go Packers!