King Cake Recipe

So…I’m a bit behind (cough, cough, almost a year and a half, cough cough) posting this, but I’m ready to get back into blogging and wanted to get it up for all of you who’ve been asking for it. I typed this entry up for Mardi Gras 2012 and never posted it.

We’ve had a lot of changes to our family since I was blogging more consistently, and I can’t wait to tell you about all of them. But, the biggest change is one we announced at our Mardi Gras party via a tiny trinket, instead of the usual plastic baby, hidden in our delicious king cake:


Indeed, this handsome fellow joined our family in September…


And here he is, at his nine-month appointment (nine months!) in June…


Needless to say, we’ve had a lot to occupy ourselves over the past several months! I hope your lives have been as fun-filled as ours have, and I’m looking forward to updating my blog more often in the coming months!


Happy Mardi Gras!  We have been a bit frantic the past two days getting ready for our Mardi Gras party this evening.  I’m thrilled to have the chance to celebrate one of my favorite holidays and share a little bit of my Louisiana heritage with some friends tonight!

I’ve made a grand total of four king cakes this Mardi Gras season, and I’m proud to say I’ve finally perfected the recipe.  Next year, I’m looking forward to trying out a few new filling flavors for the king cake.  My attempt at a strawberry cream cheese filling this year was acceptable, but less than superb.

Even if you don’t celebrate Mardi Gras in your neck of the woods, be sure to listen to a little zydeco tonight to get in on the fun!

And…for a little background info on the tradition of the king cake, check this out: Is that a plastic baby in my cake?.

As we say in Louisiana, laissez les bons temps rouler, or, let the good times roll!

King Cake
serves 20, making 2 small cakes or one large cake

For the pastry:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 packages or 4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for kneading and rolling out dough

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups pecans, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt (I used kosher)
3/4 cup melted butter

For the glaze:
4 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
8 Tbsp water
2 tsp vanilla extract

And the finishing touches:
purple, green, and gold sprinkles
1 small, plastic baby or a bean

1. Scald the milk, then remove from heat and add the butter. Allow to cool to room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, combine the yeast with the warm water and one tablespoon of the sugar in a large bowl. I used the bowl of my stand mixer. Allow the yeast to dissolve and then leave to sit (about 10 minutes) until mixture is foamy.

3. Once the milk and butter have cooled, add to yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add eggs, one at a time, combining after each addition.

4. Add the sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Beat the flour, one cup at a time, into the mixture. Once the dough has come together, knead for about 10 minutes on a well-floured surface. You may need to add an additional tablespoon or two of flour to the dough as you are kneading.

5. Grease another bowl (or wash your first bowl and reuse it), and allow kneaded dough to rise about two hours or until doubled in size. When risen, punch the dough down and divide in half.

6. While the dough is rising, make your filling by combining the first five ingredients. Then add the melted butter, mixing the filling until it is crumbly.

7. Roll half of the dough out into a rectangle of approximately 10 x 16 inches. Spread half of the filling over all of the dough, then carefully roll it up, like you would a jelly roll. If you are making two separate cakes, form the dough into a small oval and place on a greased cookie sheet or a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. For one cake, form half of a large oval and place on cookie sheet. Repeat with second half of the dough, either forming a second cake, or completing the large oval for a single cake. If making one single cake, be sure to tuck the ends of the two logs carefully into one another. Also, make sure to place the seam at the bottom of the cake to prevent the filling from leaking. For aesthetics, you can make small indentations spiraling around the cake with a butter knife, but be sure not to press too firmly, or the filling will leak out!

8. Allow dough to rise 45 minutes, then bake on 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Be sure to check the dough often, as it browns quickly! Remove from oven and allow to cool.

9. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Combine sugar and extract, then add as much water as necessary to make the glaze as thick as you prefer. I like mine fairly thick so it sticks to the cake well.

10. Glaze the cake in sections and add sprinkles, alternating purple, green, and gold. I use a technique similar to my approach for my Italian cookies: let the glaze start to set before adding sprinkles, so they don’t all run off, but don’t wait too long, or they won’t stick to the cake.

11. If desired, hide plastic baby or other trinket in cake. Serve and devour with all your pre-Lenten fervor!

adapted from