Traditional King Cake

Talk about sneaking this recipe in just under the deadline! My Instagram has been full of recipes for King Cake for weeks now but I just haven’t had time to make one and share it with you. The first time I made a king cake was a few years ago when I decided to host a Mardi Gras themed party.

After visiting New Orleans last year and loving every second of it, I knew I needed to get this cake made and shared with you so you could love it as much as I do.

King Cake came to New Orleans by way of the French in the late 1800’s. It is shaped like a crown and decorated in three royal colors; green for faith, gold for power and violet for justice.

It’s called “king cake” to honor the three kings who visited the baby Jesus. A coin or a plastic baby is hidden within the cake before it served (but not before it is baked!) and believed that the person who finds the token will have good luck for a year.

King cake is a yeasted cake which scares off quite a few bakers, but as long as you have active yeast and some patience, you will have no trouble whipping together this festive cake.


Traditional King Cake

New Orlean’s King Cake is a yeasted cake, similar to a cinnamon roll, that is shaped like a crown and covered purple, green and gold sugars or frostings to represent justice, power and faith.

  • Author: NicholeL
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking


For the Cake:

    • 2 packages active dry yeast
    • ½ cup warm (110-115 degrees F) water
    • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • ½ cup warm (110-115 degrees F) milk
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 34 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp lemon zest
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg

For the Filling:

    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 egg, beaten

For the Glaze:

    • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
    • 23 tbsp water
    • 2 tsp lemon juice
    • green, yellow and purple colored sugars


  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the beater blade attached, pour in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast packets on top.
  2. Add the unsalted butter, milk and sugar. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups of the flour, egg yolks, salt, lemon zest and nutmeg and mix until it comes together. Add in the remaining 2 cups of flour. Switch to the dough hook and process on medium speed for 6-8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a large, greased bowl, turning over the dough once to coat, then cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm location until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  5. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 16×10 rectangle. Combine the filling of cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle over the dough leaving a ½ inch border.
  6. Starting with the long end, roll up the dough jelly-roll or cinnamon roll style and pinch the ends to seal the seam. Place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet, forming the dough into a ring.
  7. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 and brush the beaten egg over the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Place the wire rack over a lined baking sheet for easier clean up. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and the lemon juice to create the glaze. Add more water until it reaches a consistency where it can be drizzled over the cake.
  10. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and then sprinkle sections of each color of sugar over the cake to created colored “wedges”.


Source: Love Bakes Good Cakes 

Keywords: king cake, new orleans, mardi gras, yeasted cake

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Isn’t it gorgeous? The cake is very similar to a cinnamon roll covered in sweet glaze. I used green, yellow and purple sanding sugar which was a tasty little crunch against the super soft cake.

If you make this and want to insert a coin or plastic baby, you’ll need to allow the cake to cool completely after coming out of the oven, then flip it over and insert the token. Add glaze and sugar then see which one of your lucky taste testers gets good luck for a year!

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