The cool, brisk air gave me goosebumps as I was waiting in line for my class to proudly march out in the Mardi Gras parade. My blacked out teeth were chattering from the cold and my blonde, matted hair (teased to ultimate perfection) was being bullied every which way by the wind. My clothes were baggy, carefully mended with pastel yellow and pink patches, which was a very poor wardrobe choice on my part seeing how the patches did not shield me from the biting wind very well. Nevertheless, I held my head high and braved the bitter chill. We, the 1st grade class of St. John Elementary, were the Krewe des Hobos, and I had to represent with great pride.

Every class had their own krewe (pronounced crew). Like the traditional Mardi Gras parade, each grade dressed up according to their assigned group, or krewe. Waiting anxiously in line were the Krewe des Pirates, Krewe des Cowboys, Krewe des Indians, and, of course, Krewe des Hobos. When our teacher let this bunch of 6-year-olds choose what they wanted to be for Mardi Gras, it was almost unanimously hobos, with the exception of Maggie Mouton, who wanted the entire class to dress up like fairies. Her request was seriously considered in pure silence and an impressive array of spit wads. Hobos it was!

We gathered outside the building, teachers and parents waiting with their point-and-shoot cameras and camcorders (roughly the size of an ice chest back then). We began parading around the school in decorated red Radio Flyer wagons while tossing tangled plastic beads, root beer Dum Dums and half-melted chocolate coins out of our pillowcases to the lucky participators. Purple, green and gold beads littered the power lines, tree limbs and street signs forever after, to serve as a reminder of the day I felt like a king, disguised as a hobo, in the Mardi Gras parade.

Celebrate Mardi Gras yourself this year with this recipe for delicious king cake!

(Note: I used small pieces of gold leaf to decorate my cake, but you can use whatever you like, whether it be colored sugar, colored icing, or edible gold and silver pearls!)

About the Author


Amber Wilson was raised in Cajun Country, experienced the boldness of Texas fare, tasted the light cuisine in Florida, plunged her fork into the various influences in Alabama, and is now enjoying the harmonious city of Nashville. She grew up in the small town of Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the women in her family taught of the importance of Cajun heritage and, of course, Cajun cuisine. She can be found sharing her Southern food and memories writing at For the Love of the South.

Amber is one of our food bloggers for The Opener, an exclusive, invite-only contributor network that will bring the best food, culture, and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey.
 

Recipe



Ingredients

Servings:
  • 1 Cup pecan halves
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 0.5 Cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Cup warm water (110-116 degrees)
  • 1 package dry active yeast (1/4 ounces)
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten, for egg wash


Directions

  • Total Time: N/A
  • Prep Time: N/A
  • Cook Time: N/A
  1. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine warm water, yeast and sugar. Allow the yeast to bloom for 5-10 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter and salt. Slowly begin to add the flour until you have incorporated the entire 3 cups of flour. Continue mixing until the dough comes together and gathers around the hook attachment. Place the dough in a large, butter-greased bowl. Flip the dough over once so the top and bottom of the dough is slightly greased. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in a warm spot for 1-1 ½ hours, until the dough has doubled in size. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until thin and slightly rectangular (don’t worry if it’s not perfect!) Lightly brush the dough with melted butter, leaving a 2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar cinnamon and pecans onto the dough. Roll the dough up tightly, longwise, beginning with the side closest to you (this step is a lot like making homemade cinnamon rolls.) Once the dough is in one long, snake-like shape, pinch the seams together (using the melted butter as an adhesive agent), and begin rolling the dough out with your palms gently until the length reaches about 1 ½ feet (depending on the length of your counter space!) Be very gentle when rolling out the dough, the pecans can easily cause a tear in the dough if too much pressure is applied. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place the two snake-like logs of dough side by side. Pinch together two ends of the logs and adhere with melted butter. Gently begin braiding the dough while forming the dough into a circle. Pinch the ends together and tuck under the king cake. Cover and let rise for 1 hour in a warm space. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Once the dough has risen for the second time, place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with slightly beaten egg. Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the cake to cool completely on a cooling rack. Decorate with icing (recipe in the next step) and gold leaf if you wish! For the icing, combine 3/4 cup powdered sugar and one teaspoon of buttermilk in a small bowl. While whisking, add a little more buttermilk until the mixture is thick and smooth.