This Mardi Gras King Cake recipe captures the carnival season’s excitement with its burst of flavors and vibrant colors. Each slice, filled with rich cinnamon and decorated with striking sugars, not only delights the senses but also brings a taste of New Orleans’ festive spirit to your table.
Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe
Embark on a culinary journey to the vibrant streets of New Orleans with this homemade Mardi Gras King Cake. Picture yourself in your kitchen, hands dusted with flour, as you lovingly prepare the dough, infusing it with a heartwarming mix of cinnamon and sugar. When it bakes, the aroma fills your home, reminiscent of the festive spirit of Mardi Gras. Drizzling over the creamy, vanilla-infused icing is like painting a canvas, finished with a sprinkle of festive green, purple, and yellow sugars.
Ingredients You’ll Need
For The Dough
- Warm Milk: Activates the yeast, making the dough soft and tender. Almond or soy milk can be substitutes. You’ll need it at around 110°F, not any warmer as it could kill the yeast.
- Active Dry Yeast: Causes the dough to rise, creating a light, airy texture.
- Granulated Sugar: Sweetens the dough and can be replaced with coconut sugar for a healthier option.
- All-Purpose Flour: A gluten-free flour blend works well as an alternative.
- Salt: Brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.
- Ground Cinnamon: Adds warmth and spice, essential for the dough’s flavor.
- Eggs: Adds richness and color to the dough.
- Unsalted Butter: Moisturizes and flavors the dough. For a dairy-free option, you could use margarine or a plant-based butter alternative.
For The Filling
- Brown Sugar: Offers a deep, caramel-like sweetness. Dark brown sugar can be used for a more intense flavor.
- Ground Cinnamon: Imparts a signature warm, spicy flavor.
- Unsalted Butter: Adds richness and helps bind the cinnamon and sugar together for a smooth filling. A dairy-free butter or margarine can be used as a substitute.
For The Icing
- Powdered Sugar: Forms a smooth, sweet icing. A sugar-free powdered sweetener can be a substitute.
- Milk: Thins the icing to the perfect consistency. Any milk, dairy or non-dairy, works well.
- Vanilla Extract: Adds a hint of warm, floral flavor.
For Colored Sugars
- Green, Purple, and Yellow Food Coloring: These colors are traditional for a Mardi Gras King Cake and symbolize justice, faith, and power. Natural food coloring is a great alternative.
- Granulated Sugar: Used for making the decorative, colored topping. You can use coarse sugar to achieve a more sparkling effect.
How To Make Mardi Gras King Cake
Making this Mardi Gras King Cake is a fun and straightforward process that brings the carnival spirit right into your kitchen. Let’s get started!
Activate The Yeast
Begin by dissolving the active dry yeast in warm milk with a pinch of sugar. Give it about 10 minutes until it becomes frothy. This step is crucial for ensuring your yeast is active and ready to make your dough rise.
Make The Dough
In your stand mixer’s bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add the activated yeast mixture, eggs, and melted butter all at once. Using the dough hook attachment, let the mixer knead the dough on a low setting. This should take about 5-7 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
After the dough is kneaded, transfer it to a greased bowl, cover it, and allow it to rise in a warm spot until it doubles in size, which typically takes about an hour.
Assemble The Cake
Once your dough has doubled, roll it out into a large rectangle on a floured surface. Spread softened butter over the dough. Then mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the butter. Carefully roll the dough lengthwise, as tight as you can. Then, form this long roll into a circle and pinch the ends together to seal your cake.
Place your circular dough on a baking sheet or a bundt pan, cover it, and let it rise again for about 30 minutes. This second rise will make your cake even fluffier.
Bake The Cake
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake your King Cake for 30 minutes or until it turns a gorgeous golden brown. Place it on a cooling rack and let it come to room temperature.
Make The Icing And Colored Sugars
While the cake cools, mix powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract to create a thick but pourable icing. For the colored sugars, divide granulated sugar into three bowls and mix in green, purple, and yellow food coloring respectively. Spread these sugars out to dry a bit on parchment paper, preventing the colors from running when applied to the icing.
Decorate The Cake
Once your cake is cool, drizzle over the icing, and then have fun sprinkling the green, purple, and yellow sugars on top. You can make alternating bands of color or mix them as you like.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! You can prepare the dough a day in advance. After kneading, place it in a greased bowl, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Before using, let it come to room temperature and go through the rising process.
Definitely! You can mix and knead the dough by hand. It might take a bit more time and effort, but the result will be just as delicious. Just ensure you knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
To test yeast, mix it with warm milk and a pinch of sugar and wait about 10 minutes. If it becomes frothy, your yeast is active. If not, the yeast may be old or inactive, and you’ll need to get a fresh batch.
Absolutely! Feel free to get creative. Some popular variations include cream cheese filling or fruit jams. Just spread your chosen filling over the dough before rolling it up.
- Proofing Yeast is Key: Ensure your yeast is fresh by proofing it with warm milk and a pinch of sugar. If it doesn’t froth, your yeast may not be active, which is crucial for the dough to rise.
- Even Filling Distribution: When adding the cinnamon and sugar filling, aim for an even spread. This ensures every slice of your King Cake has the perfect balance of sweetness and spice.
- Dough Consistency: If your dough is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time during kneading. Conversely, if it’s too dry, add a little milk. The perfect dough should be soft and elastic, not sticky or crumbly.
- Controlled Rising Environment: For the dough to rise properly, it needs a warm, draft-free environment. An unheated oven with a bowl of warm water placed inside can create the ideal conditions.
- Icing Texture: For the icing, aim for a thick but pourable consistency. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar; if too thick, a bit more milk. This ensures it will set nicely on the cake without running off.
Your King Cake will stay fresh for up to 2 days at room temperature. Just make sure it’s covered in plastic wrap or an airtight container. For longer storage, you can refrigerate it for up to a week, though the texture is best when fresh.
Discover More Delicious Cakes
- Harvey Wallbanger Cake
- Burnt Basque Cheesecake
- Condensed Milk Pound Cake
- Caramel Apple Cake
- Black Velvet Cake
Craving More? Follow Along:
Mardi Gras King Cake
For The Dough
- ½ cup warm milk about 110°F
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup unsalted butter melted
For The Filling
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter
For The Icing
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For Colored Sugars
- green, purple, and yellow food coloring
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Dissolve the yeast in warm milk with a pinch of sugar. Let it sit until frothy (about 10 minutes).
- In your stand mixer's bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add the activated yeast mixture, eggs, and melted butter all at once. Using the dough hook attachment, let the mixer knead the dough on a low setting. This should take about 5-7 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
- Roll out the dough into a large rectangle. Spread softened butter over it, then sprinkle the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture evenly. Roll the dough tightly lengthwise. Form it into a circle and pinch the ends together.
- Place the shaped dough on a baking sheet or bundt pan, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Bake the cake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the cake is cooling, mix powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract to make the icing. It should be thick but pourable. Take your granulated sugar and divide it equally into three separate small bowls. Add a few drops of green food coloring to the first bowl and mix thoroughly until all the sugar is uniformly green. Repeat this process with purple food coloring in the second bowl and yellow food coloring in the third bowl. Spread the colored sugars out on a baking sheet or parchment paper to dry for a bit. This prevents the colors from running when you sprinkle them on the icing.
- Once your King Cake is iced, sprinkle the colored sugars over it. You can create alternating bands of green, purple, and yellow, or mix them as you like.
Tips & Notes:
- Activate the Yeast Properly: Ensure your milk is warm (about 110°F) to effectively activate the yeast. This step is crucial for a well-risen cake.
- Let the Dough Rise Twice: For the best texture, allow the dough to rise twice – once after kneading and again after shaping.
- Experiment with Food Coloring: Feel free to adjust the intensity of the colored sugars to suit your preference. More drops will result in more vibrant colors.
- Store Properly: Keep the cake in an airtight container at room temperature to maintain freshness. It’s best enjoyed within 2 days of baking.
- Safety First with Food Coloring: When mixing the colored sugars, cover your work surface to avoid staining, and wear gloves to protect your hands.