Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

King Cake

Is it a cake? Is it a bread? King Cake is a little of both. A yeast bread that is kin to a cinnamon roll, this massive Mardi Gras treat is a must have for any Mardi Gras gathering!

When I originally published my Mardi Gras Cake recipe last year, many people confused it with a King Cake. The Mardi Gras Cake is a local family recipe from New Orleans and is something served at family gatherings rather than big Mardi Gras parties. The King Cake - a luscious yeast bread drizzled with icing and sparkling with green, purple, and gold sugar is an entirely different beast. You can find them with all sorts of sweet fillings. Some resemble cinnamon roll fillings, some sticky bun fillings, some forget the filling entirely. You'll find them in braids (like mine) or circles or crescents. You'll find them with plastic babies baked in for good luck, gold coins, or a bean.

Regardless of the fillings and shapes, they'll all be decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple, and green which stand for power, justice and faith. They're really very beautiful and go great with a little cafe au lait or chicory coffee.

So, celebrate Fat Tuesday with your own homemade King Cake!

P.S. If you're wondering about the change in format of the recipes, it has to do with Google rolling out its "Rich Snippets" for recipes. It's one of those changes they make from time to time that really hurt small bloggers and help big corporations. So, to try to keep my recipes somewhere in the mix I've made changes to the format from here on out that requires a lot of hand editing. It can sometimes be messy but I hope you'll still be able to read the recipes easily enough.

Recipe: King Cake


  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 (1/4 oz.) packages of Rapid-Rise Yeast
  • 3/4 cup butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup milk 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 tbs. milk
  • Green, Yellow, and Purple colored sugars


  1. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and yeast in bowl of electric mixer.
  2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in small saucepan over low heat. Add 3/4 cup milk and 1/2 cup water. Heat until hot (120-130°). Add milk mixture to flour mixture and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, beating well. Stir in remaining 3 1/4 cups of flour. Attach a dough hook to the mixer and knead for 5-7 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. (If kneading by hand, it will take about 10 minutes.)
  3. Place dough in a well-greased bowl and turn to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  4. Stir together remaining 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°. Punch down dough and let rest for 6 minutes. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 28x4-inch rectangle. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter and brush evenly over rectangles. Sprinkle each rectangle with 1/4 cup sugar mixture making sure to leave a 1-inch margin around edges.
  6. Roll up each rectangle like a jelly roll starting at the long side. Pinch edges together to seal. Pinch ropes together at one end and braid the three ropes together. Pinch together at the other end. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 15 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  7. Place on a large parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Combine powdered sugar and 3 tbs. milk in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cake and then sprinkle with colored sugars.


Traditionally a King Cake has a small baby doll, coin, or bean inserted somewhere in the dough. The person who finds the treasure receives good luck.

Prep time: 50 minutes
Prep time: 90 min
Cook time: 20 min
Total time: 1 hour 50 min
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 12
Meal type: dessert
Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)
Copyright © Buck Bannister and Sugar Pies.
Recipe by Buck Bannister.

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