Mardi Gras King Cake

Catalina Castravet
By Catalina Castravet
Updated:
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King Cake is festive, sweet, and is a favorite in many places because of its religious and cultural significance. Make it for Mardi Gras with this easy recipe!

Pastries like this have always been associated with celebrations. Parties are not complete without them! So, here is a recipe you can try as well as the recipes for Slow Cooker Rice and Beans, Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole, and Shrimp Creole!

image of Mardi Gras king cake

Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

Making King Cake is now both a tradition and an industry. And there is no other place like New Orleans in terms of consuming this pastry. Most likely, it is part of the French influence that started in the 18th century.

This cake is colorful, traditional, and exciting to serve at parties, particularly during the Mardi Gras season. But with this recipe, you will learn that you do not need to go across the country to New Orleans just to enjoy this. It is so easy to make at home, and you can even eat it on any occasion that you are craving for some.

Even when deliveries are possible, it is best if you can customize your own. Why not establish a new family tradition of making your king cakes? Start with this easy recipe!

image of adding glaze to Mardi Gras king cake

What is the meaning of King Cake

It is a pastry that commemorates the three kings who found the babe in the manger. This representation makes it an ideal cake to serve this Lenten season. And unsurprisingly, it is the star of many Mardi Gras parties.

What is in a King Cake

It is shaped like a ring, and in the folds and rolls, you will find a sweet filling. On the outside, you will see that it is topped with sugar or a glaze in Mardi Gras colors.

Aside from these, you may be able to find a small figurine of a baby, or a pea, or a bean inside. These extras indicate that the person who finds these in their serving will hold the next party or bring the pastry next time. It brings another reason for guests to enjoy the party!

image of Mardi Gras king cake step by step preparation

How to make King Cake

  • Prepare the dough: Combine the dairy ingredients, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and heat until the butter melts. Cool the mixture and set aside. In another cup, combine the yeast and warm water, add a bit of sugar and let stand for a few minutes. Using a stand mixer with the hook attachment, combine the two mixtures with egg and 2 cups of flour. Once mixed, add in the flour and mix some more until a soft dough forms.
  • Allow it to rise: Knead the dough for up to 10 minutes more at low speed, then, transfer to a greased bowl. Cover and allow it to rise for about an hour placed in a warm area. Expect it to double in size.
  • Put the filling: Divide the dough into two and roll each half into long rectangular strips. Spread butter on top, leaving an inch around the perimeter untouched. Sprinkle a mixture of sugar and cinnamon on top, too.
  • Assemble: Roll the dough strips into two long logs, with the seam facing the bottom of the lined sheet. Then, intertwine each log with each other until a ring is formed. Cover and allow it to rise again for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Bake: Put it in the oven preheated to 375 degrees. After 15 minutes, see if it is done. It should be golden brown. When done, allow it to cool.
  • Glaze: In a bowl, combine all the glaze ingredients. Make an individual bowl for each color.
  • Serve: Decorate with the glaze, then, serve.

image of king cake slice with purple and green glaze

Can you make it in advance?

Yes! It can withstand up to 3 or 5 days in the counter or left in a dry cool corner away from direct sunlight. Simply cover it loosely. So, you can make it a few days before the party and still have a great pastry to serve.

How to freeze:

Mardi Gras King Cake will last for at least 3 months, even up to a year. When ready, take it out of the freezer at least two hours before serving.

image of king cake slice with golden and purple glaze

Recipe Tips:

  • You may hide the bean or a piece of pecan as you roll the dough into a log before baking. But if you are going to put a figurine, wait until you have finished baking.
  • Instead of intertwining, you may simply coil the dough into a simple spiral.
  • If you have leftovers, slice away and make French toast out of them.
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Mardi Gras King Cake
Author: Serves: 12 servings
Prep time: 2 hours 30 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Total time: 2 hrs 45 mins

Ingredients

DOUGH:

  • 4 ounces  sour cream 
  • 4 ounces  greek yogurt 
  • 1/4 cup  white sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons  unsalted butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt 
  • 1 1/4- ounce  envelope active dry yeast 
  • 1/4 cup  warm water  (110 degrees F)
  • 1/2 tablespoon  sugar 
  • 1  large egg  (lightly beaten)
  • 3 cups  all-purpose flour  (about 1/2 cup more if needed)

FILLING:

  • 1/2 cup  unsalted butter  (softened and divided in half)
  • 3/4 cup  white sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons  ground cinnamon 

GLAZE:

  • 3 cups  powdered sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons  cream cheese  (softened)
  • 4 tablespoons  milk 
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla extract 
  •  Purple gel food coloring 
  •  Green gel food coloring 
  •  Gold gel food coloring 
  •  Golden sprinkles 

Instructions

DOUGH:

  1. Add sour cream, yogurt, sugar, butter, and salt to a medium saucepan over low heat, stir often, until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and cool the mixture to about 110 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine yeast with warm water and sugar, stir to combine and let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add the sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, lightly beaten egg, and 1 cup of flour.
  4. Work the dough at medium speed and as the ingredients start to come together, reduce speed to low, add another cup of flour and mix on medium speed. Reduce to low and add the remaining cup of flour. If the dough is too sticky add 1/2 cup more of flour.
  5. At low speed knead the dough for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  6. Lightly grease with oil a large bowl and place the dough inside it, cover with plastic wrap of a towel, place in a warm place and let it rise for about one hour. It should double in size.
  7. Next, divide the dough in half and roll each portion into a long rectangle.

FILLING:

  1. Spread the softened butter equally on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over buttered dough rectangles.

FORMING THE CAKE:

  1. Roll up each dough rectangle, starting at the long side, and basically forming a long log.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place one dough roll, seam side down, onto the prepared baking sheet, add the other one very close to the first one, also parallel.
  4. Pinch the tops together, and twist the dough logs over each other for a braided look. Once done, bring the ends around together to form a ring, make sure you seal them well.
  5. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

BAKE:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Bake the cake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.
  3. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before topping with the glaze.

GLAZE:

  1. In a large bowl mix powdered sugar, cream cheese, milk and vanilla extract until smooth & creamy. If the glaze is too thick add one more tablespoon of milk.
  2. Divide the glaze into three separate bowls.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring: purple to one bowl, green to another, and golden to the third one. Stir to combine.
  4. Pour glaze evenly over the cake, alternating colors and forming bands, immediately garnish with golden sprinkles.
  5. Let the glaze settle/harden before slicing and serving the cake.
Calories: 408 Carbohydrates: 71 Protein: 5 Fat: 13 Saturated Fat: 7 Cholesterol: 45 Sodium: 219 Potassium: 129 Fiber: 2 Sugar: 47 Vitamin A: 435 Vitamin C: 1 Calcium: 81 Iron: 2
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photo of King's Cake

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