King Cake

King Cake

If you are planning a Mardi Gras party, you will want a King Cake. King Cakes are a long-standing tradition in New Orleans at Mardi Gras. A small plastic baby is often hidden in the cake, although you can use a bean or even a whole pecan or almond. Tradition has it that the guest who finds the “surprise” in their piece will host next year’s party. Be careful to warn guest so they don’t break a tooth or swallow the “prize”.  You can also use the whole nuts inside the cake and just set the baby on top of the cake when serving.

The “cake” is really a sweet cinnamon swirl bread.  The yeast dough is rolled out, spread with butter and cinnamon sugar, and rolled up. Then the dough is shaped into an oval shape.

After it is baked, it is decorated with colorful frostings, sugars or both. Traditionally the colors used are yellow, green and purple, but, hey it’s your cake have fun with it. If you want just the sugars, and no frosting, then brush the king cake with a beaten egg before baking and sprinkle with the sugar then. Otherwise, you’ll decorate the cake once baked and cooled.

King Cake

1/4 c. butter

16 oz. container sour cream

1/3 c. sugar

1 t. salt

2 packages active dry yeast

1 T. sugar

1/2 c. warm water

2 eggs

6 /2 c. flour

1/2 c. white sugar

1 1/2 t. cinnamon

1/3 c. butter, softened

Colored sugars and frostings (recipes follow)

Heat together the first 4 ingredient to about 100 degrees. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in large bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Add butter mixture, eggs and 2 cups of the flour. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed and gradually work in enough flour to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, about ten minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top and cover. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Stir together 1/2 c. sugar with cinnamon and set aside. Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll out one piece of dough into a 28×10-inch rectangle. Spread dough with half of the butter and sprinkle with half of the sugar mixture. Starting at long end roll up jelly roll fashion and pinch seam to seal. Shape dough into an oval shape and pinch ends together. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining piece of dough except remember to add the toy baby, nut or bean if you want the “surprise”. Cover and let rise about 20 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool before decorating with tinted frostings and colored sugars. Makes 2, serving 24.


3 c. powdered sugar

3 T. melted butter

3 t. milk

1/2 t. vanilla

Green, yellow, red and blue food coloring

Combine sugar and butter and add enough milk to make the glaze a drizzling consistency. Add vanilla and divide mixture in three small bowls. Tint one bowl yellow, one green and one purple, using both the red and blue food coloring. I often don’t bother to tint the frostings, but rely on the tinted sugars for color.


Tinted sugars

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

Food coloring

Place 1/2 c. sugar in each of three small bags and add a couple of drops of food coloring to each. One use yellow, one green and one both the red and blue for purple. Shake the bags to distribute the color. You should only need a couple of drops of each.


Decorate the cake by making bands of the colored frostings and then sprinkling on the sugars.

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