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kingcake1 copyWhether you celebrate Mardi Gras every year, or have never been too keen on the bead collecting holiday, you must try King Cake. Steeped in tradition, this dessert is more of a pastry than a cake in my opinion. Much like a cinnamon roll or danish, King Cake is a staple of any Mardi Gras celebration.

The fun thing about King Cake, besides the fun that comes along with being delicious, is that it’s covered in purple, green, and gold sprinkles and has a special trinket inside. That’s right, this dessert comes with a prize. Traditionally housing a small plastic baby, eating this cake is like opening up a box of Cracker Jacks and digging up the prize. In King Cake, however, only one person is lucky enough to have the baby in their piece, and that means they get to provide the cake at the following year’s Mardi Gras celebration. Pretty fun, huh?

This year was my first attempt at actually making a King Cake, so I went all out and decided to craft this puppy from scratch. It was a labor of love, but I am super proud of how they (I made 2 different versions!) turned out. I used a recipe I found on Southern Living because I wanted this to be a legitimate experience for all. Below is almost the exact recipe I followed with just a few tweaks I implemented, along with what I hope will be some very helpful photos.

Now, all that’s left is to laissez les bon temps rouler (let the good times roll), y’all!!

What You’ll Need::

For the Cake

  • 1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour

For the cinnamon sugar filling

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the cream cheese filling 

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg, divided in half
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the icing

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk

What To Do::

(yields 2 King Cakes)

For the cake

  1. Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool mixture to 100° to 110°.photo 1
  2. Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes. photo 2photo 3
  3. Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.photo 4
  4. Using the pastry hook on your mixer, slowly “knead” the dough at a low speed for 6-8 minutes, or until the dough is stretchy.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, about another 6 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. photo 5
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk. I placed mine on top of the preheated oven under a dish towel and opened the oven for a few minutes at a time to allow the heat to reach the dough.photo 2photo 4
  7. Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle.  photo 5
  8. Here, decide which filling you’d like to use. I made one cake with each! When you’re done prepping your filling, move on to step 9.
  9. Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.
  10. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  11. Bake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes).
  12. Meanwhile, prepare the icing. Stir together first 4 ingredients. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.
  13. Top your glazed cake with your preferred Mardi Gras colored sprinkles and don’t forget to add the baby! I simply cut a slit in the bottom of one of my cakes and snuck it right in there.
  14. Bon Apetit!

For the cinnamon sugar filling

  1. Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border.
  2. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle.photo 2photo 3

For the cream cheese filling

  1. eat 3/4 cup sugar, cream cheese, 1 egg, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
  2. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on each dough rectangle, leaving 1-inch borders.Nourish and Be Nourished::