“Why on Earth would you want to make a Paleo King Cake?”
It has come to my attention that A) to some folks anything deviating from the traditional sugary, yeasty and possibly filled with fruity goodness cake is blasphemous in South Louisiana and, B) if it is not reflective of something sugary, yeasty and filled with syrupy fruit, then it should not be called a King Cake. Well, my friends, I have tasted many of a traditional King Cake along the I-10 corridor in my lifetime and I’m here to tell you none of them are exactly the same in composition or flavor profiles — therefore, just because this version does not contain a wheat-based flour or yeast doesn’t mean it’s not Carnival-worthy.
The cake is a symbol to mark the end of Christmas and the visit of the three kings to the Christ Child on Twelfth Night until the end of the season being Mardi Gras — you know, Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent. And the style of cake ranges from the traditional New Orleans way of twisted cinnamon-sugar flavored dough topped with icing and purple, green and gold sugar, to the French influenced galette des rois consisting of flaky puff pastry layers with a dense center of almond filling. No matter your preference, the cake is meant as a tribute to the Mardi Gras season and meant to be shared with friends in celebration.
You see? No two are the same, yet all are called a King Cake — everyone has a preference of taste.
Unfortunately for some, the beloved sweet treat leaves lasting undesirable effects like headaches and stomach discomfort — this is the life of those living with gluten intolerances or for those who have chosen to avoid grains and processed sugars. I do not have a gluten intolerance, but I choose to stay away from grains and follow a mostly Paleo lifestyle — in a nutshell, I mostly eat veggies, fruits and meats and avoid processed foods. Of course, as a food writer, I make concessions but you’ll rarely find me eating pasta alfredo or a burger with a bun. But dessert, oh you are my weakness. I’d say I try to follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time I eat Paleo and 20 percent of the time I don’t. And yes, I will eat a slice or two of traditional King Cake this Mardi Gras season.
This recipe is what happens when you take a Paleo cinnamon roll recipe and mix it with a dash of New Orleans family roots — it’s surprisingly tasty and won’t leave you with the self inflicted sugar coma feeling. Of course, it’s still a treat so even though I’ve made it fit into the mold of a gluten-free and Paleo lifestyle, it still doesn’t replace the need for healthy foods in my life.
So, to answer that question of why would I do this? Well, as I mentioned earlier, part of the tradition of the King Cake is to share with friends in celebration — I made this recipe to share with two co-workers with gluten issues and we are enjoying the Carnival season over a slice and cup of tea as we speak.
Photo via Instagram
My solution to a King Cake for those following a gluten-free or Paleo lifestyle.
Paleo King Cake
1/2 c. coconut flour
1/2 c. almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbs almond milk
2 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites
2 Tbs maple syrup
4 Tbs almond butter
4 Tbs pure maple syrup
2 Tbs ground cinnamon
Add 2 Tbs almond milk to remaining filling and drizzle on top of cake immediately after removing from oven. You can add extra almond butter to thicken glaze as needed. Sprinkle colored purple, green and gold coconut sugar on top of glazed cake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a stand mixer, combine wet ingredients and mix until blended then sift dry ingredients into wet. Mix until well blended. Dust hands and parchment paper with coconut flour to prevent sticking and place dough onto paper and roll with coconut flour dusted rolling pin.
Roll dough into a rectangle and brush filling ingredients evenly over the dough. Gently, fold dough in half and cut into three even pieces and braid into a twist (Note: the dough is very delicate and may be difficult to braid. If so, improvise and piece together however possible.) Shape dough into a ring shape on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and top with glaze and colored sugar.
Slice, serve and enjoy.
Lifestyle Writer Kari Walker has a 2-year-old daughter, Stella. When she’s not photographing her food or twerking, she loves CrossFit, running, travel and hashtags.