If you can’t make it to the Big Easy for Carnival season, bring the Big Easy home with this traditional king cake recipe. Made with brioche dough, filled with cinnamon, and topped with icing and sugar to represent New Orleans’ biggest day, this is the sweet treat you want to make to close out Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, calls for feasting — for instance, on king cake.
If you’ve never actually eaten a New Orleans king cake, the one caveat is that it’s not like a regular cake. There are different versions around the world, but the ones made for a Mardis Gras celebration are made with a sweet brioche dough (it calls for eggs, sugar, and yeast in addition to the flour) shaped into a ring. Just looking at one can be intimidating, but this recipe is very straightforward. It’s kind of like a cinnamon roll decorated with sparkly tinted sugar in typical French Quarter fashion for a true Mardi Gras king cake. And let’s not forget the king cake baby! Each cake for Fat Tuesday should have a plastic baby baked inside, if you’re following tradition. Whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby in it gets to make the next king cake or throw the next king cake party.
If you’re sold on this simple king cake recipe, here are a few things to keep in mind to execute this recipe successfully:
__Dough:__ Even though this is a yeast dough, it only requires one rise — which is much easier than most yeast doughs. Another thing to note is that if you’re using yeast from a packet, you’ll need two packets, but you won’t use it all. Each packet holds 2-1/4 teaspoons which is a little less than the 1 Tablespoon this recipe calls for.
__Shaping The Dough:__ After you roll out the dough, transfer it to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet before you fill it and shape the dough into a ring. If you shape it before you put it on the baking sheet, you’re at risk for dropping it or it will lose its shape and the filling.
__King Cake Baby:__ Because this recipe has a thick layer of cinnamon rolled up in the dough, the baby is protected from the heat of the oven and won’t melt. Where to buy the baby? We bought a pack of them on Amazon. Just search for “King Cake Baby.”
This cake is more delicious than you would expect — you can’t really go wrong with an iced cinnamon roll! The only challenge might be resisting the king cake tradition for Mardi Gras season next year. But now you know you don’t have to travel all the way to Louisiana to get one.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with this easy-to-make recipe for King Cake.
1. Info for King Cake
- Cook Time: 1 hr 50 min
- Total Time: 1 hr 50 min
- Servings: 12
- Calories: 369.73 kcal
2. Ingredients for King Cake
- 1/2 cups unsalted butter (melted)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar (divided)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- green sprinkles or sanding sugar
- gold sprinkles or sanding sugar
- purple sprinkles or sanding sugar
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar until the yeast and sugar have dissolved. Then whisk in the egg and egg yolk until well-combined.
- Fit a stand mixer with a dough hook. To the empty mixer bowl, add the remaining sugar, plus the flour and salt. Put the bowl onto the mixer and turn the mixer to the low-speed setting. Slowly pour in the milk mixture and let mix a few moments until a dough forms.
- Increase the speed to medium and mix for five minutes. The dough will become smooth and begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Remove the dough from the stand mixer and put it into a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm spot and let rise for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into roughly a 9 x 24 inch rectangle.
- In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
- Using a spoon spread the cinnamon mixture in a three-inch-wide section down the entirety of the dough’s center.
- Hide the plastic baby in the cinnamon mixture.
- Fold the bottom dough section up to cover the cinnamon section. Then, fold the top dough section over the same way, to create a long roll. Shape the roll into an oval and press the seams together where the dough ends.
- Carefully transfer the oval to the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until the top of the cake is lightly browned. Remove the cake when it is done cooking and allow it to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth.
- Decorate your king cake in the traditional way by drizzling on the glaze and then create a pattern of green, gold, and purple stripes with the sprinkles.