Mardi Gras King Cake

Happy Mardi Gras! Or should we say,

Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

It’s definitely not too late to celebrate in style with your very own “King Cake”.

Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday” marks the end of Carnival and is always the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Carnival officially ends at midnight on Fat Tuesday and Lent begins. Traditionally, Fat Tuesday marks the last day to indulge before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins. In the US, King Cakes are the preferred dessert and snack in New Orleans during the Carnival season. These days, the cake is generally embellished with purple, green and gold sugar and contains a plastic baby inside. Whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby in it… wins! I.e. they are in charge of buying the cake next year.

The last time I made a King Cake was well over 10 years ago, in my high school French class. I loved to bake back then too, but the cake itself wasn’t incredibly memorable for me. However, the decorations: purple, green and gold sugar and the plastic baby inside the cake stuck with me. This year, I was determined to bake something memorable! I scoured the net and found this recipe, a deliciously light cake that is essentially a cinnamon sugar and cocoa stuffed brioche cake. It is delicious, and will certainly be my breakfast for days to come!


King Cake
An easy, yet delicious recipe that pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee--morning, noon, or night!
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Prep Time
1 hr 45 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
Prep Time
1 hr 45 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
2 hr 15 min
For the Dough
  1. 1 c. whole milk
  2. 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  3. 2 tbsp active dry yeast
  4. 4 1/2 c. + 1 heaping tbsp all-purpose flour
  5. 3/4 tsp salt
  6. 1 c. unsalted butter, melted
  7. 5 large egg yolks
  8. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  9. 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  10. 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  11. 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
For the Filling
  1. 1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  3. 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  4. 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  5. big pinch of salt
For the Glaze
  1. 2 c. powdered sugar
  2. 1/4 c. whole milk
  3. 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  4. purple, green and yellow sprinkles
  5. a tiny plastic baby, or dried bean, to put in cake after baking
For the Cake
  1. Heat milk to 110 degrees F in a small saucepan.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the granulated sugar, yeast and a heaping tbsp of flour, mixing until both the sugar and the yeast have dissolved.
  3. Let sit for 5 minutes and allow the yeast to foam.
  4. Once bubbles have developed on the surface of the milk and it begins to foam, whisk in the butter, eggs and vanilla.
  5. Place the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  6. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture.
  7. Stir until well combined, with a spatula.
  8. Mix the dough with the mixer and the dough hook for 5-7 minutes. The dough should look wet and sticky. Make sure all flour has been incorporated into the dough.
  9. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm, draft-free place to let it rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in volume. Start the filling towards the end of the dough rising period.
  10. Combine the filling by mixing all ingredients into a smooth paste.
  11. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two equal pieces. Roll each piece to about 18-20 inches long and 6-8 inches wide.
  12. Spread each piece with half of the filling and roll starting from the long ends of the dough.
  13. Press and roll each dough out another couple of inches to even the thickness of the strands.
  14. Line the ropes of dough up and twist together starting from the center. Bring the edges around and seal into a circle.
  15. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cake on the baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes while the oven preheats.
  16. Brush the cake lightly with the egg wash.
  17. Place in oven for 30 minutes and bake until bubbling and golden brown. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.
For the Glaze
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.
  2. The glaze should be thick but still pourable.
  3. Spread glaze over the cooled cake.
  4. Sprinkle with sprinkles.
  5. Lift a corner of the cake and tuck the baby inside for someone to find!
  1. Tips: If you warm the milk too much, the yeast won't activate. If you don't warm it up enough, it will take much longer for the dough to rise.
  2. Letting the cake rest before baking allows the dough time to stretch out and relax before it hits the oven.
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Adapted from Joy the Baker

February is great isn’t it? Between Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day, there are 3 things to celebrate in this week alone! For other cake ideas for this holiday season, check out our “Surprise Your Valentine” post.

There’s still time to book a private chef for Valentine’s Day. Check out all of our private chefs and their specialized offerings for the occasion. And don’t forget, Laissez les bons temps rouler!