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King Cake

2013 January 28
by admin

The only time I’ve ever had king cake was in college.  A freshman year dorm-mate who was born in New Orleans had a King Cake shipped to her every Mardi Gras season.  The tradition isn’t popular in South Carolina and celebration of Mardi Gras pretty much goes unnoticed around here.  So, this was my first exposure to King Cake.


According to Wikipedia, King Cake can be served throughout the days between Epiphany and Fat Tuesday.  The shape and decoration of the King Cake all hold symbolisms.  The roundness stands for unity of faith, the colors stand for justice, faith, and power.


Traditionally, a plastic baby may be embedded in the cake prior to cooking and whomever gets the piece with the baby is declared King for a day and must also provide the King Cake at the next year’s celebration.  This recipe is for a cream cheese filled king cake.  Traditionally the cake is more like a cinnamon roll but in the spirit of Fat Tuesday, it seemed to be fitting to go all out and enjoy a richer dessert.


King Cake (Southern Living 2006)

This recipe is scaled to make two King Cakes.  I halved it with no issues.


  • 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*
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the powdered sugar glaze

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sparkling sugar sprinkles


  1. 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°.
  2. Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
  6. Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Beat 3/4 cup sugar, cream cheese, 1 egg, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on each dough rectangle, leaving 1-inch borders.
  7. 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.
  8. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  9. Bake at 375° for 16 to 19 minutes or until golden.  If it browns too much before you think the cake is done, tent with aluminum foil.  Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes).
  10. Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining all listed ingredients until smooth.
  11. Drizzle glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.*6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour may be substituted.


  • Eva @ Eva Bakes

    The first time I ever had a king cake was at a friend’s Mardi Gras party (and that one included the plastic baby). I’ve wanted to make one myself but haven’t done so yet. I’ll need to try your recipe soon!

  • Laura Davis

    I was just thinking that I need to get on making a King Cake soon. Yours looks perfect, Branny! :)

  • Kate

    I have to tell you, I don’t think that King Cakes are especially attractive. They’re probably one of the ugliest cakes out there. Yours is GORGEOUS!

    • Branny

      What a compliment! Thanks.

  • Pingback: King Cake Recipe | Clever Cake Blog

  • Jenn

    will this cake stay fresh if made 2 days before needed?