Have your meat cake and eat it too. Try this boudin-stuffed king cake for Mardi Gras.
Do you know about the tradition of King Cake for Mardi Gras? Starting on Epiphany in early January, bakeries throughout New Orleans will produce king cakes for the Mardi Gras season. The circular pastries are so popular they have begun to crop up in neighboring areas like Texas, though die-hard New Orleanian ex-pats still choose to order theirs from their favorite bakeries, who ship nationwide.
King cakes are a giant ring of yeast dough, usually sprinkled with a diabetic-coma-inducing amount of colored sanding sugar in the colors of Mardi Gras. Fun fact – Rex, the King Of Carnival announced these colors back in 1892, choosing purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. They also contain a small ‘baby’ figurine, and the tradition dictates that whomever gets the slice with the baby must bring the king cake the next year.
Over the years, king cakes have developed in complexity, some being stuffed with cream cheese, some having a praline swirl. But I guarantee you this is the most indulgent stuffing of all – Cajun boudin sausage, made with pork, liver and rice!
Don’t be prude. This stuff is awesome. And no, it’s not a gimmick, it’s actually delicious. See, much like patès will be paired with sweet jellys or jams, the liver in boudin is a great match to the slightly sweet brioche bread and the hints of uber-sweet glaze.
This version doesn’t have a baby or a plantation’s worth of sugar topping, but I think you’ll love it all the same.
In a small saucepan, heat milk to 110f then remove from heat and whisk in the sugar until dissolved. Add the yeast, and allow to bloom 10-15 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Attach the dough hook to the mixer.
Once the yeast has bloomed, whisk in the melted butter, eggs and yolks. Pour the liquid mixture into the stand mixer bowl with the dry ingredients, and turn machine to low until all ingredients are combined. Increase the speed, and knead the dough 5-7 minutes.
Once kneaded, cover the bowl with a cloth and place in a warm area to proof and double in size, 1 hour.
Using a sharp knife, split the casings of the boudin, peeling them away and discarding so only the filling remains. Place the filling into a microwave safe bowl, and warm for 30 seconds at a time to make the mixture more pliable (cold boudin can be crumbly and hard to work with). You want to just make it soft, but not actually heat it up.
Punch the risen dough to knock out the air, then place on a silicon matt or floured board. Divide the dough in two. Take one piece and roll it to form a long sausage, then roll with a rolling pin to flatten. Take half the boudin mix and arrange it along the middle of the dough piece forming a large log. Fold the dough over the sausage, then continue rolling to seal it. You may need to pinch the seams shut to form a seal. You should have a long snake-shaped piece that is stuffed with boudin.
Repeat this process with the second piece of dough and remaining boudin. Bring both pieces side by side, pressing two of the ends together to join them. Gently braid the dough pieces, overlapping them with each other to form a pattern. Pull the ends together to form a circle, and seal the end pieces together as best you can.
Gently place the braided loaf on a large tray lined with parchment paper, and cover with a cloth. Allow to rise 45 minutes. 15 minutes before the end of proofing, start preheating your oven to 375f.
Place the risen king cake into the preheated oven, and bake 25-30 minutes until golden. The boudin is already cooked and just needs reheating.
Remove from oven and allow to cool. In a bowl, place the Steen’s syrup and 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar. Stir to combine. Continue to add the powdered sugar a half cup at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. The final glaze should be extremely thick and take some force to stir. Once the cake has cooled, pour the glaze over and serve.