King Cake Babka

We put a Carnival twist on the popular bakery treat. 

King Cake Babka
Yields: 1 (9X5-Inch) loaf
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup plus ⅓ cup sugar, divided
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ½ cup warm whole milk (105° to 110°)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cold whole milk
  • Carnival Sugars (recipe follows)
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine flour, ⅓ cup sugar, yeast, and zest. With mixer on low speed, add warm milk, eggs, and vanilla, beating until mixture comes together, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. With mixer on medium speed, add ½ cup butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, letting each piece incorporate before adding the next. Add salt, beating just until combined, about 3 minutes. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until a smooth and elastic dough forms and pulls away from sides of bowl.
  3. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°) until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours. After dough has risen, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cinnamon, remaining ½ cup butter, and remaining ½ cup sugar at medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Fold in pecans.
  5. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  6. On a heavily floured surface, roll dough into a 16x12-inch rectangle. (Dough will be sticky.) Spread pecan mixture onto dough, leaving a 1-inch border on long sides. Starting at one short side, roll up dough, jelly roll style, and press edge to seal. Using a sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise. Carefully twist dough pieces around each other, and place in prepared pan, cut side up. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°) until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes. Cover with foil, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°, about 35 minutes more. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes; remove from pan.
  9. In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and cold milk. Drizzle glaze over loaf, and top with Carnival Sugars.

Carnival Sugars
Yields: 1½ Cups
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 8 drops purple liquid food coloring
  • 8 drops green liquid food coloring
  • 8 drops yellow liquid food coloring
  1. Place ½ cup sugar in each of 3 small resealable plastic bags.
  2. Add purple food coloring to one bag, green coloring to second bag, and yellow coloring to third bag. Seal bags, and shake each until sugar is even in color.



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