Monday, March 7, 2011

Homemade King Cake

This Mardi Gras season, I've seen King Cakes in all the grocery stores and while the basic recipe appeals to me, the ones from the grocer's bakery does not. 
They never taste like they should.
So, I decided a few weeks ago, I'd try my hand at a homemade one.

After recipe researching, I came up with an easy to make King Cake.
Basically, it's similar to a brioche or challah dough and I made the dough in my bread machine.
It would easily be made in the Kitchenaid stand mixer or by hand as well.
Oh, but I love having my bread machine make my dough for me while I do a billion and eighty-five other things.


King Cake

2 1/4 tsp yeast
¼ cup water

¼ cup melted butter
1 cup milk (or dairy free subsitute like almond milk), scalded

2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp lemon juice (and i added a little zest as well)
¼ tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
3½ to 4 cups flour

2 sticks of cold butter in thin slices 


softened package of cream cheese
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts
1 Tb of cinnamon

2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
approx. 3 TB of milk or water (almond milk works fine as well)

Add ingredient according to manufacturer's directions and turn on the dough cycle. For me, I add all the wet ingredients first, next the dry ones and then, the yeast goes on top. If you are doing this in a stand mixer or by hand, mix yeast, sugar and water and set aside. Combine milk, butter and eggs until blended. Next, add in remaining ingredients reserving the last cup of flour. Mix until well blended and soft dough is formed. Slowly, add in remaining flour until dough is soft, but easy to handle and not too wet. Cover with a clean, damp towel and let rise for 1.5 hours or until doubled. 

After the dough cycle is complete or after your dough has risen, roll out a large rectangle. On one side, place enough pats of butter to cover half of the dough. Fold the other side over and repeat the process on the smaller rectangle of dough to cover half of it in pats of butter. Fold the remaining dough over again and roll it out flat back into a large rectangle. 

 Don't use the butter your 1 year old is munching on...

This creates flaky, pastry layers while the cake is cooking. This is optional but it makes it SO much better! I wouldn't make this without doing the layers. After rolling back out into a larger rectangle, cut the dough into 3 fairly equal strips. Blend together the filling ingredients (you don't have to use cream cheese but it's SO good. you can instead sub with a half a cup of melted butter) and spread across your 3 strips of dough. Roll up the and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill (makes the dough easier to handle for the braiding).

To braid, roll the 3 pieces of dough out into long snakes. I find it's most effective using my hands rolling and gently stretching, allowing each piece to rest for a few minutes and then, stretching it a second time. Next, you just braid the dough like you would hair, but with this filling, go slow and gently stretching and forming the circle with the dough as you go. To end, I just pinch the ends together and tuck them under the bottom. Transfer to a well greased baking sheet and cover with a towel to allow it to rise for another 45 minutes.

Before the final rise...the filling makes it more difficult to braid the King Cake compared with braiding Challah, but it's still doable. You can just skip the braid and do it this way. But, it's definitely not as pretty.

*A little trick...grease a ramekin or a clean old coffee can and place in the center to keep the perfect circle and prevent the dough from spreading and baking together in the oven. *

After it rises, bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (though I started checking 5 minutes early and would advise the same as ovens vary).
Mmmm...right out of the oven.

After it cools, then you ice it. I couldn't find purple sprinkles that didn't cost an arm and a leg, so i decided to color my icing instead of using colored sprinkles. The icing is a simple glaze (just mix it all together) and I separated it into three bowls and added a little bit of natural food coloring until I got the desired colors. Pour it on top and then, Tripp sprinkles sparkling sugars on top for the finishing touch.



  1. whoa. I'm just now seeing this and I feel incredibly lazy for unrolling cinnamon rolls... thanks for bringing this!