I've been to New Orleans, several times, but never during the Mardis Gras season. (I'm not so sure I could handle the crowds and craziness.) Mardi Gras season begins on January 6, of each year and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent. One of the wonderful traditions of Mardi Gras, and probably the most delicious, is the King Cake. The "traditional" King Cake is made from twisted strands of cinnamon dough.
A few years ago, I was handed a slice of "King Cake" from a local bakery. It was bone-dry, and didn't have a whole lot of flavor, and so I made it my personal mission to try baking my own King Cake. I really enjoy baking sweet rolls, and once I searched various recipes, I decided to make a brioche-type dough, with a cream cheese filling.
Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors - purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power-- and I think they look so festive.
Working with yeast is a fear that I have successfully overcome. I just remind myself that yeast likes to be warm (not hot) and likes to be fed something "sweet".
In this case, warm water and sugar makes the active dry yeast bubbly and creamy. To the dough, I'll be adding some freshly grated nutmeg as well.