Cinnamon-Cream Cheese King Cake

Swirled with cream cheese and cinnamon, this traditional king cake is a must for any Mardi Gras parties you attend this year.

Cinnamon-Cream Cheese King Cake
Makes 1
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • King Cake Dough (recipe follows)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: colored sanding sugar
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ tablespoon whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
King Cake Dough
  • 4½ cups bread flour, divided
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 (0.25-ounce) package instant yeast
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add confectioners’ sugar, egg yolk, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt, and beat at low speed until combined and smooth.
  2. Lightly punch down King Cake Dough. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water.
  3. Turn out King Cake Dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide in half. Roll one half into a 24×6-inch rectangle. Using a small offset spatula, spread half of cream cheese mixture onto dough, leaving a ½-inch border on one long side. Brush border with egg wash. Starting with long side opposite border, roll up dough, jelly roll style; pinch seam to seal. Gently shape log to even thickness, if necessary. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and remaining cream cheese mixture.
  4. Carefully twist logs together, and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Form into a circle, twisting and pinching ends to seal. (Use egg wash, if needed.) Slide parchment onto a baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°) until puffed, 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°.
  6. Brush dough with egg wash.
  7. Bake until lightly golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°, 30 to 45 minutes, loosely covering with foil halfway through baking to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting on top, and garnish with colored sanding sugar, if desired.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and salt with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating at low speed until smooth.
King Cake Dough
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup water, butter, and vanilla over medium heat until butter is melted and an instant-read thermometer registers 120° to 130°. Add warm butter mixture to flour mixture, and beat at medium speed until combined and cooled slightly, about 2 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk, and beat at medium speed until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add remaining 2½ cups flour, beating just until combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
  3. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft dough forms, about 8 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook. (Dough will be slightly sticky.) Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth round.
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.