Cinnamon-swirl king cake (right) and easy almond king cake (left)
We've got one week left until Fat Tuesday, so it's time to get serious about everything you'll want to eat between now and then. The most important decision to make (at least in our view): What kind of king cake shall you eat?
There are as many different flavors and styles of king cake as there are beads in a Mardi Gras parade, so you should never feel limited by whatever you've heard is the "correct" form of the cake. At Southern Kitchen, we've found two particular stand-outs if you need some help. Feel free to go crazy with colored sugar, no matter which cake you choose.
Cinnamon-Swirl King Cake
Brioche dough and cinnamon-sugar are rolled up, twisted and baked into this brilliantly-striped and not-too-sweet king cake. It's especially great when eaten warm and straight out of the oven for breakfast, but you can certainly hold the cake until an afternoon or evening party. Hide a few slices in a bag to carry to a parade for sustenance — it won't flake and crumble like pastry-based cakes. If you're game to experiment, you can change up the filling ingredients to suit your preferences. Play around with different spices, or stir in dried fruit and/or citrus zest. The world is your oyster, er, cake. Just don't forget the plastic baby!
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Easy Almond King Cake
On the other hand, if you can't eat king cake without craving a big rush of sugar, look no further than this easy pastry-and-almond king cake made with store-bought puff. If you'd like to make your version ultra-Southern, consider swapping out the traditional almonds for pecans and the rum for bourbon. (Because you can never have too much bourbon.) You can leave it bronzed and golden-brown, or drizzle the top with a quick but thick powdered sugar glaze. A heavy hand with colored sugar really takes the cake over the top. Word to the wise, though, this cake is ultra-flaky, so plan to eat it around a table or at least with a passel of napkins (and maybe a bib).
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Photo (Cinnamon Swirl King Cake): Kate Williams
Photo (Almond King Cake): Ramona King