Calendula Officinalis: King Cake with Calendula

Calendula—a Golden Herb for Garden and Kitchen


| February/March 2008


Makes 16 to 20 servings

King Cake, a time-honored Mardi Gras dessert, is a lightly sweetened yeast bread decorated with thin frosting and bands of colored sugar crystals. Mardi Gras colors are purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. Although lemon zest is traditional for King Cake, I’ve used orange zest and calendula in this version.

• ⅔ cup milk
• ½ cup dried OR ¾ cup fresh calendula petals
• ½ cup warm water
• Generous teaspoon honey
• 1½ tablespoons active dry yeast
• About 4 cups unbleached flour
• 1 cup whole-wheat flour
• ⅓ cup sugar
• 1½ teaspoons salt
• 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
• 1 scant teaspoon mace
• Zest of 1 orange
• 4 extra-large egg yolks, lightly beaten
• 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened
• Glaze: 1 egg slightly beaten with 2 teaspoons milk

To make dough: In a small saucepan, combine milk and calendula and heat to a bare simmer. Remove pan from heat and allow liquid to cool. (When flour is added later, liquid should be warm—not hot or cold.)



Measure warm water into a glass measuring cup, add honey and stir. Sprinkle with yeast and stir. Set in a warm place for about 10 minutes, until yeast foams up and nearly doubles in volume.

Meanwhile, combine flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon and mace in a large bowl and toss to mix. Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture and warm calendula milk. (If necessary, gently reheat milk to warm.) Add zest, egg yolks and butter and stir with a wooden spoon until ingredients are well-mixed. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead—pushing and pulling with your fingers—for 5 to 10 minutes to form a large ball. Dust work surface lightly with flour, if necessary, to prevent sticking. Dough should be shiny, elastic and not sticky.







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