Mardi Gras 2020 Falls On Tuesday, February 25, 2020.
The celebration, which means Fat Tuesday in French, is the last day of the Carnival season. It is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent—so it’s the last day for indulgent foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
If you can’t participate in person, there are traditional foods you can make at home, including:
The King Cake is a Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans, made only during this time of year. Just about every bakery sells the cake.
Fans all over the country purchase the cakes by mail order, and you can purchase a kit to make your own.
King Cake is typically a Danish yeast ring (some are elaborately braided), brioche or cinnamon bread. It is covered by a poured white icing and sprinkled with purple, green and gold colored sugars—the Mardi Gras colors.
What makes a King Cake fun is the hidden charm—originally a baby, representing baby Jesus and now any charm you like.
Here’s the history of King Cake.
This year, Joy The Baker has created a savory King Cake for famed New Orleans brand Zatarain’s.
Most King Cakes are sweet, cinnamon roll type pastry, sometimes with a cream cheese filling, and topped with a sweet glaze. Other King Cakes are largely puff pastry with a nut filling, not unlike the flavors of an almond croissant.
It has not been common to find a savory King Cake, but Zatarin’s reports that savory twists are the latest trend down South, including crawfish and cheese.
The recipe below features Zatarain’s Smoked Sausage, the trinity (onions, celery plus parsley and garlic), parmesan cheese and creole seasoning.
Created by Joy The Baker, it’s the smoky King Cake is “a welcome respite to the sweet.” Layers of savory southern flavors are swirled together into dinner roll dough.
Says Joy, “This cake is incredibly delicious. It’s somewhere between indulgent King Cake, hearty sandwich, and stuffed dinner roll. It’s a show-stopper (and that’s saying a lot during Mardi Gras), and a baking adventure.”
You can eat the King Cake at room temperature, but Joy recommends serving it warm.
“I think this cake is most delicious the day it is baked, but store any leftover cake in the refrigerator overnight and heat gently in foil before serving.”
Thanks to Joy and Zatarain’s for the recipe. Here are Joy’s step-by-step photos.
For The Dough
1. USING the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 3-1/2 cups of flour along with the rest of the ingredients and mix with a spatula into a shaggy dough. Mix on the dough hook for 7 to 8 minutes, until a relatively smooth ball forms. Add a bit more flour if the dough is feeling overly sticky.
2. REMOVE the dough from the mixer onto a lightly floured surface,. Knead by hand for 2 minutes until soft and shaped into a ball. Lightly grease the mixing bowl and place the dough ball in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
3. MAKE the filling while the dough rises:
4. PLACE coarsely chopped celery, onion, bell pepper, parsley, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Pulse for about 1 minute until the mixture is evenly chopped, into an almost fine mixture. Says Joy: I got my chunks to be about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch in size. Not completely pulverized—a small dice.
5. HEAT a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and warm. Add the chopped vegetables to the skillet and allow to cook, releasing some of the water in the vegetables, for 5 minutes or so. Stir occasionally as the vegetables cook.
6. SLICE the smoked sausage into 1-inch rounds. Place the sausage in the bowl of the food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse the sausage slices until they’re evenly fine—again, about 1/2-inch bits is about right. Add the sausage to the skillet to cook along with the vegetables. Stir to combine evenly. Allow the mixture to cook for about 4 minutes more. Remove from heat and allow to cool while the dough finishes its rise. After the dough has doubled in size…
7. SCOOP it out of the mixing bowl on to a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into an approximately 12 x 16-inch rectangle.
8. USE a pastry brush to spread melted butter across the dough. Spread the cooled meat and vegetable mixture across the dough into an even layer, leaving about 1/2-inch border around each side of the dough. Starting from the long end…
9. ROLL the dough, gently but firmly, into a log, seam side down. Swoop the two ends together, tucking one end of the cake into the other.
10. LINE a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. With confidence (you can do this!), lift and transfer the round cake to the center of the prepared baking sheet.
11. USE a serrated knife to slice into the dough round. Slice about 3/4 the way into the dough, around the circle about 2-inches apart. Carefully twist each attached roll onto its side, revealing the sausage swirl.
12. COVER loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise while the oven preheats.
13. PLACE a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the wreath for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. While the cake bakes…
14. DYE the cheese in three separate bowls. Divide the cheese between three bowls, and add a few drops of dye to each bowl. Use a spoon to distribute the dye around the cheese or use a pair of latex gloves to mix by hand.
15. REMOVE the cake from the oven. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before sprinkling with colored frosting and topping with a King Cake baby, if desired. (NEVER put any plastic favor or token into the oven.)