King Cake

The finished King Cake
The finished King Cake

If you’ve never had one before, a King Cake is a bread-like cake, sometimes with filling and sometimes without, that’s iced with white icing and sugar in purple, green, and gold for Mardi Gras.  They aren’t my favorite of desserts, but they’re a lot of fun around Mardi Gras.  There’s usually a “baby” hidden inside and whoever finds it provides the cake the next year.

Normally you buy King Cake and you can even have them mailed right from New Orleans.  But I’ve been enjoying making foods that match the seasons and so I thought it would be a shame to miss the chance to try making my own King Cake!

Mixing dough
Mixing the dough to within an inch of its life. Don’t do this!
Filling the dough
Filling the yard of dough with cream cheese filling

I hunted around online for a recipe and ended up with this one from Emeril.  The deciding factor?  It was a filled cake and had the most nutmeg of any of the recipes I looked at.  I love nutmeg!

The dough is really a bread dough more than a cake so out came the yeast and the dough hook on my mixer.  The only really tricky part of the recipe was the mixing.  I thought it needed more mixing to firm up when it really just needed more flour.  But until I wised up and was mixing furiously away I thought my stand mixer was going to overheat.  (I overmixed the dough considerably.)

Filled cake, pre rising and baking.
Filled cake, pre rising and baking.
Huge king cake
Just after baking. It got huge!

Then you let it rest, it rises, etc. as per bread.  Stretching it out on the counter the recipe says to make a rectangle roughly 30 inches by 6 inches.  It didn’t really register on me until I had my tape measure out exactly how long that was.  It was a little crazy seeing nearly a yard of dough!

I was also really surprised by how huge the cake ended up.  It dominated almost the entirety of a half sheet cooking sheet and it was heavy.

Vibrant sprinkles
The sprinkles were a lovely vibrant color

The frosting is powdered sugar moistened with lemon juice and milk, more a glaze than a frosting.  I had to dye the sprinkles myself as my grocery store didn’t stock green, purple, and gold sprinkles.  The nerve!  I followed this guide on dyeing your own sprinkles.  Basically just combine a little food dye and sprinkles in a ziplock bag and mix it together.  I was able to make really vibrant sprinkles in exactly the colors I wanted so it was great!

A slice of King Cake
A slice!

The taste?  Great!  It was kind of like a very rich Danish (since it was filled with cream cheese) and very sweet.  I ended up with the baby (a kidney bean) so I guess I’m making one again next year!

So that’s it!  It’s not exactly an easy project, but it’s not too hard either.  You can totally make King Cake yourself!

King Cake on

Dye your own sprinkles guide

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