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King Cake

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

I’m fully aware that today is Mardi Gras and officially the last day that a King Cake is to be consumed in the window between Kings Day and Ash Wednesday. But in my defense a) my husband’s office is having a Fat Tuesday Lunch and he needed to bring something, 😄 b) I’m a sucker for tradition and traditional foods so it had to be done, 🤷🏻‍♀️ and c) if there’s an excuse to bake carbs, I will gladly bake the carbs.

New Orleans style King Cake with a cinnamon swirl

When researching recipes, I wasn’t sure whether to add raisins. There are entire forums dedicated to the topic, so I turned to my Louisianan friend. The response was, ”No, no, no!!! NO RAISINS!” so I took her word for it. Thank you, Julie, for sharing your favorite @chefjohnfolse recipe with us! It was a great guide for a traditional King Cake!

This looks like a lot of work, but I promise it’s very manageable as there’s not a lot of active time. The dough does need to rest twice, so factor that in, but it’s a great afternoon project that you can come back to as the day unfolds.

As for the hidden almond, in New Orleans the King Cakes have hidden toy babies in them to symbolize Baby Jesus. I didn’t have a toy baby, and I was worried that a dry bean would break someone’s tooth! I settled for an almond but if you can find a toy baby, you can push it into the bread after baking.

Now we’re going to really put the ‘Fat’ in Fat Tuesday and go to town with this cake!

Ingredients for 2 King Cakes (one to keep, one to share!):


  • 1 cup (235ml) whole milk

  • 1/4 cup (60g) butter

  • 2 packages (1/2 oz./ 14g total) active dry yeast

  • 2/3 cup (158ml) warm water (110F/45C)

  • 1/2 cup (95g) white sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 5-1/2 cups (750g) all-purpose flour


  • 1/2 cup (95g) sugar

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 cup (60g) melted butter

  • 2 whole almonds


  • 2 cups (260g) confectioners' sugar

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) water

  • a few drops almond extract

  • a pinch of salt

  • sprinkles

Scald the milk (bring it to a boil whilst stirring, remove from heat as soon as it starts to bubble). Set the pan aside and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of sugar (taken from the 1/2 cup). Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

Add the cooled milk to the yeast mixture and whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining sugar, salt and nutmeg.

Beat the flour into the mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough comes together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Punch it down and divide the dough in half.

Grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

For the filling, melt the 1/4 cup of butter. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Roll each dough-half out into a large rectangle approximately 10x16” (25x40cm). Brush the melted butter over each rectangle and sprinkle half the sugar/cinnamon mixture over each rectangle. Place one almond on the dough, the person who finds the almond is king for a day!

Starting with the long side, roll up one rectangle tightly like a jelly roll. Bring the ends of the roll together to form a ring, pinch together the ends to close. Repeat with the other rectangle. Place each ring on a prepared baking sheet. Using scissors, make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let the rings rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Brush with remaining melted butter.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by whisking together all the ingredients. Glaze whilst warm and decorate with sprinkles immediately.

New Orleans style King Cake with icing and sprinkles

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