Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake

Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake

Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake is classic for a reason.

Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake
Serves 8
A traditional Mardi Gras King Cake.
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  1. ½ cup warm water (110 to 115°)
  2. 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  3. ½ cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  4. 4½ to 5½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  5. ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  6. 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  7. 2 teaspoons salt
  8. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  9. ½ cup warm whole milk (110 to 115°)
  10. 3 large eggs
  11. 4 large egg yolks
  12. ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
  13. 1 king cake baby, metal doubloon, dried bean, or pecan (see note)
  14. Vanilla Icing, recipe follows
  15. Colored Sugars, recipe follows
  1. In a small bowl, stir together ½ cup warm water, yeast, and 2 teaspoons sugar; let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together 4½ cups flour, remaining ½ cup sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest. Make a well in center of flour mixture, and add yeast mixture. Add eggs and egg yolks; gradually stir until combined.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, cut in ½ cup butter into flour mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. Place dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead until it forms a soft ball. Continue kneading, adding additional flour as needed, until a firm, elastic dough is formed. Brush a large bowl with 1 tablespoon softened butter, and place dough into bowl, turning to grease top of dough. Cover bowl, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1½ hours or until dough doubles in size.
  4. Brush a large baking sheet with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and punch down dough. Knead for 10 turns. Cut dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope. Pinch ropes together at one end; braid ropes, and bring ends together to form a circle, pinching to seal. Place on prepared pan, and let rise 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake on a rack placed in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature in pan on a wire rack. Place baby, coin, bean, or nut, in cake. Top with Vanilla Icing, and decorate with Colored Sugars.
Louisiana Cookin
Colored Sugars
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  1. 1½ cups granulated sugar, divided
  2. Yellow food coloring
  3. Green food coloring
  4. Purple food coloring
  1. In 3 resealable plastic bags, place ½ cup sugar. Add 3 to 4 drops yellow food coloring to a bag, seal, and shake until evenly coated. Add more food coloring, if necessary, to achieve desired color. Repeat with green and purple food coloring in the remaining 2 bags.
Louisiana Cookin


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