Saturday, February 26, 2011

King Cake for Mardi Gras

For our Mardi Gras celebration…a King Cake!
The term Mardi Gras refers to the carnival celebrations beginning on or after the Epiphany (the visitation of the 3 Kings to the Baby Jesus) and ending on the tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is french for "Fat Tuesday". It marks the beginning of the Lenten season and your last chance to eat whatever you want before the fasting begins! Fasting has changed a bit since I was a young girl…but Mardi Gras is the same! Recently I have added a visit to New Orleans, to my bucket list! I have been to Europe, I have been to Iceland and yet, have never been to New Orleans. I was so close a few weeks ago…but alas, it did not happen!
I see myself sitting at the Cafe Du Monde having hickory coffee, a plate of Beignets and watching the world go by! Simple pleasures! Until that day comes, I will celebrate Mardi Gras at home by making a King Cake.  
This week, while kid sitting with my grandsons, I thought it was the perfect time to bake a King Cake. A fun activity with a scrumptious outcome!  
I had made the dough in the early afternoon before they came home from school. So by the time they came home it had risen nicely. After my oldest grandson left for baseball practice, my younger grandson and I rolled out the dough, sprinkled it with the sugar and cinnamon mixture and put a coffee bean in it to be found when eaten, instead of a toy baby (which is tradition).  I then rolled it and let it rise again, then baked it. When it was done we let it cool and frosted it. We then sprinkled it with sugar in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. We all enjoyed it for desert that night! It was fabulous!

Such a lovely way to enjoy the Mardi Gras

Traditional King Cake

This traditional Mardi Gras dessert makes two king cakes each topped with a creamy glaze and festive gold, purple, and yellow sugar sprinkles.

Yield: Makes 2 cakes (about 18 servings each)

1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour*
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Recipe of Creamy glaze
Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sparkling sugar sprinkles

Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool mixture to 100° to 110°.

Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.

Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle.

Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Bake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes). Drizzle Creamy Glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.

Cream Cheese-Filled King Cake: Prepare each 22- x 12-inch dough rectangle as directed. Omit 1/3 cup softened butter and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Increase 1/2 cup sugar to 3/4 cup sugar. Beat 3/4 cup sugar; 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened; 1 large egg; and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on each dough rectangle, leaving 1-inch borders. Proceed with recipe as directed.

*6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour may be substituted.

Creamy Glaze

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk


Stir together first 4 ingredients. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.

This Recipe is from Southern Living Magazine February 2006


  1. How fun and festive! It looks great!

  2. I hope you do make it to New Orleans some day, Kathy. You will love it! I have always wanted to make this cake. Your's is so pretty and festive looking!

  3. Wow, Kathy! I should have had this for dessert for my mom's birthday party. You did a lovely job!