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Classic Recipe For Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake

King Cake — Happy Mardi Gras Y'all!

This story was written by member syako and comes from the Kitchen Goddess group in the YumSugar Community.Mardi Gras is a couple weeks away, and this New Orleanian gal — who's been transplanted to Maryland — misses this holiday the most! Even more, I miss the yummy gooey king cake that goes with it. So I made one myself this weekend and the result was fabulous! It's definitely worth trying. Hope you enjoy.

To get her recipe, keep reading.

King Cake

King Cake

Classic Recipe for Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake 2010-02-08 16:53:37


  1. For Dough:
  2. 2 tbsp butter
  3. 8 oz sour cream
  4. 5 tbsp sugar, separated into 4 & 1 tbsp
  5. salt - two finger pinch
  6. 1 package (7g) active dry yeast
  7. 1/4 cup warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees)
  8. 1 egg
  9. 3-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  10. oil - doesn't matter what kind, just for your hands and the bowl
  1. For Filling:
  2. 2 tsp cinnamon
  3. 1/2 - 1 cup of sugar (eyeball it)
  4. 3-4 tbsp. of melted butter
  1. For Icing:
  2. 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  3. 1 tsp vanilla
  4. 1 tbsp butter, melted
  5. 4 tbsp milk
  6. pinch o' salt
  1. For Colored Sugars:
  2. 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (not powdered), separated into 1/2 cups
  3. food coloring - blue, red, green, & yellow
  4. * if you can't find superfine sugar you can use regular sugar. it will just be much more coarse)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Start the dough. In a sauce pan over medium heat, add the butter, 4 tbsp sugar, and salt. Stir. Once the butter has melted, add the sour cream and heat to luke warm, about 105 degrees. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, add 1/4 cup warm water, yeast, and 1 tbsp sugar, then stir. Allow the yeast to sit for about five minutes, until it has been activated. If the yeast does not become active, toss out the mixture and start with a new packet of yeast.
  2. Once the yeast is active, whisk in the warm butter and sour cream mixture, the egg, and 1 cup of flour. Whisk until smooth. Using an oiled wooden spoon, begin mixing in small amounts of flour until you form a soft dough. This will generally take about another 2 cups of flour, just go by touch. You don't really want a sticky dough, but a slightly sticky dough is okay because you can knead in more flour as you go, whereas it's much harder to add liquid.
  3. Turn the dough out on to a clean surface lightly dusted with flour. With oiled hands, knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Place the ball of dough into a large well-oiled bowl, then flip the dough so all of the surface area of the dough is oiled. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap (oiled side down) and a hand towel, then set the bowl in a warm (about 80-85 degrees is best) draft-free area and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. (I find an area around the preheating oven is usually the best warm and snuggly environment for the yeast.)
  5. While the dough is rising make the filling. Combine the melted butter, cinnamon and sugar in a medium bowl and combine.
  6. Once the dough has doubled in size, pour it out onto a lightly floured long piece of parchment paper. Lightly flour the top of the dough and a rolling pin (a smooth-edged glass will work in place of a rolling pin in a pinch). Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 18 inches long and 12-14 or so inches wide. Gently lift all the sides of the rectangle to make sure the dough is not sticking to the parchment paper, this will be important when you go to roll up the cake. Spread the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1 inch border around the outside of the dough.
  7. Roll the cake up, in a jellyroll-esque fashion, starting by rolling the unfilled border of the dough closest to you over the filling, and carefully begin to roll the dough up into a log. When you have only a few inches left, take the unrolled part and complete the log by gently lifting and pressing the remaining part of the dough up on to the log, so it's seam side-up. Carefully press on the seam to ensure a solid bond. Very carefully work the two ends of the log together to form an oval, then press the doughy edges together to completely seal the cake into an oval.
  8. Slide the parchment paper that the king cake is on, onto a large movable surface, such as a large cutting board or a sheet pan. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper then place the sheet pan, parchment side down, on top of the king cake to form a king cake sandwich. Trying not to smash the cake, quickly flip the sandwich over and lift off the top cutting board or sheet pan. Gently peel back the parchment paper, and voila!, the king cake is transferred to a parchment-lined sheet pan, seam side down, and ready for its second rise and the oven. Recover the cake with greased plastic wrap and a hand towel and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes.
  9. During the second rise, make the colored sugars. Place 1/2 cup of superfine sugar into three separate bowls (standard soup bowls work well). Using the food coloring make one bowl of green sugar, one bowl of yellow sugar, and one bowl of purple sugar (more of a red purple than an indigo). Use the back of a spoon or a pestle, work the food coloring into the sugar by grinding it against the side of the bowl and working the coloring throughout all of the sugar. Continue this until the sugar is uniform in color and there are no clumps. Mardi Gras colors are super vivid so use as much food coloring as is necessary to achieve them!
  10. Bake the cake at 375 degrees in the upper 1/3 of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown. Immediately transfer the cake to a cooling rack after removing it from the oven. This is most easily done by sliding the parchment paper onto the rack directly from the sheet pan (but I just picked it up and placed it on the rack without the paper, whatever works for you). Allow the cake to cool for at least 20 minutes before icing the cake.
  11. Once the cake has cooled for 15 minutes, make the icing. Whisk together the powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, melted butter, and milk until smooth. You want the icing to be able to drizzle easily but not just run right off the cake, so if the icing is too thin, just whisk in more sifted powdered sugar and if the icing is too thick whisk in a touch more milk. After the cake has had a chance to cool, remove the parchment and move the cake to whatever platter you wish to serve it on. At this point, stick a dried bean or little plastic baby into the cake through the bottom. It's tradition in Louisiana that who ever gets the baby has to spring for the next cake! Else where, it's a sign of good luck. :-)
  12. Drizzle the icing evenly over the cake and allow it to ooze down the sides. Before the icing has a chance to set, sift on rotating strips of colored sugar. King cake is fantastic eaten warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Makes 1 king cake.

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