King Cake Recipe

From Nola Cuisine

It’s Twelfth Night tonight, January 6th, the traditional start of the Carnival season, and that means King Cake parties in Louisiana. Whoever gets the baby trinket in their piece of King Cake either hosts the next King Cake party, or chokes to death because their host didn’t warn them that it was within the cake, so please do so. I will update this post tomorrow with more on the historical meaning of the cake and so forth, but for now, lets just have some cake.

The recipe:

King Cake Recipe

For the Brioche:

1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
2 Tbsp Warm Water (115 degree F)
1 tsp Iodized Salt
2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Milk
2 tsp Orange Zest, minced
2 Cups All Purpose Flour, sifted
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 Eggs, beaten
1 1/4 sticks cold Unslated Butter, cut into very small dice
1 Egg beaten and 2 Tbsp water, for the eggwash
1 plastic baby trinket

Dissolve the yeast in the workbowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, let stand until frothy.
Dissolve the salt, sugar, orange zest and milk in a small bowl. When dissolved combine the milk mixture with the yeast mixture. Mix the cinnamon with the flour.
With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, then gradually add the flour, until all is incorporated. Knead on low speed for 10 minutes, or until a smooth elastic dough is formed. A little more flour may be necessary. With the motor running, incorporate the butter into the dough, a little at a time but rather quickly so that it doesn’t heat up and melt.
Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour in a warm spot.
When the dough has doubled in bulk punch it down, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll the dough out to a 6 x 18 inch rectangle. Spead the Pecan filling (recipe below) out in the middle of the rectangle along the whole length, leaving about 1 1/2 inch on each side. Place the baby trinket somewhere with the filling. Fold the length of the dough over the filling and roll up tightly, leaving the seam side down. Turn the roll into a circle, seam side down and put one end inside of the other to hide the seam, and seal the circle. Place the cake on a baking sheet and let rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Brush all over with the egg wash, then place the king cake into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

When the cake cools, brush with some of the glaze (recipe below) thinned out with more cold water. This will help the sugars adhere. Decorate the cake with the colored sugars and drizzle some of the thicker glaze onto the cake.

Place on a large round serving plate and decorate with Mardi Gras beads, doubloons and whatever else that you like.

For the Pecan filling:

1 Cup Pecan halves, broken up slightly and roasted until fragrant
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
1 pinch of salt
4 Tbsp Steen’s Cane Syrup

Combine all of the ingredients together.

For the glaze

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tbsp Bourbon
Water (enough to make a paste that can be drizzled)

Combine the sugar and bourbon, whisk in enough water to make a glaze that can be drizzled.

My friend Jason of Off The Broiler also brought this Latin-American version of King Cake to my attention courtesy of Daisy Martinez. It’ s Marzipan filled and looks absolutely gorgeous.

45 thoughts on “King Cake Recipe”

  1. I always prefer unslated butter, myself. The little bits of stone in the slated butter are bad for your teeth. ;)

  2. Your king cake loook just beautifil. I came on to your site to get ideas of what to serve for Mardi Gras (here in Italy) along with my gumbo. I just hope my version of king cake will come out as nicely.

  3. can anyone tell me where I can buy porcelain feve??? I had saved many from childhood but cannot find them and I hoped to bake them in my cake…

  4. My king cake is on the table at home…waiting for Mardi Gras celebration this evening!

    Let the good times roll!!!!!!

  5. This king cake looks so good. I wish I would have taken the time to make one for my Cajun husband this year. Instead I took the lazy way out and bought at Publix. Blah!… Lesson learned!

  6. I lived in NOLA 3 years befor K. I havn’t been back yet. I have been searching for this recipe and will now make one and drink a glass of wine. Thank you!

  7. Last yeat I made this king cake. I’d never done a brioche dough before…it was hard, but boy, it was worth the trouble. Kim

  8. The list of ingredients calls for an egg wash, but I don’t see when to apply it. Could the chef clarify? Thanks!

  9. Quick question… Does the dough have to refrigerate over night? I have seen many versions of the king cake recipe, and this is the only one that asks for it. What will happen if I do not have time for the overnight resting?
    Thanks a mil.

  10. For those of us not inclined to bake and living for from NOLA, which bakery is the best to purchase & have ship King Cake? (Maybe this year they’re putting in eight babies???)

  11. I’m new to Mardi Gras celebrations, but this year I’m having a dinner party and wanted to include this treat. It smells and looks great, I can’t wait to taste it on Tuesday!
    My only novice slip was that I rolled my dough too thin and it burst in a couple places, exposing the praline.
    I plan on making this again, even if it isn’t for Mardi Gras. Thanks for the recipe.

  12. For the person asking about a bakery to order a king cake (even though mardi gras is almost here and gone) – Ambrosia Bakery in Baton Rouge, La. I am sure there are other great places but I have been ordering from here ever since I moved away from Louisiana and I can’t say one bad thing about their cake or delivery. Hope this helps.

  13. This turned out to be a great recipe! I also used your shrimp ettouffe and red beans recipes for a party this weekend and both were hits. Thanks!!!

  14. Hello,
    Do you know where plastic feves can be purchased in the United States? I have been looking all over. Thanks so much.

  15. I havent tried the place in baton rouge but i’m a native to new orleans and have found that Randazzo’s and Haydels have been the best places to order cakes from. Melt in your mouth good…

  16. I’ve actually never placed the dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight — this seems a little unneccesary. If you can get your hands on a King Cake mix, Mamm Papaul’s makes a really good one that you can buy at most any supermarket in New Orleans during Carnival season (Mamou Anne’s Mix is also good). You don’t even need a mixer with a dough hook; did cakes for years just using the plastic bag to mix everything in. As for my favorite bakery to buy from, I still like McKenzie’s the best! Was so sad to see them close after Carnival in 2001.

  17. First, I must say that picture of your King Cake is absolutely beautiful. (Do you, by chance, bake & ship King Cakes that ACTUALLY LOOK like the one in the picture??? Actually full of cake & not empty space!?!)That was a joke. Now…at the risk of sounding stupid, I have a couple of questions. #1-What exactly is a “Brioche Dough”…& why is it called “Brioche”?? #2-”plastic or porcelain “Feves”??? What is a Feve?(All I can figure is it’s another name for the little baby in the cake.) & #3-on 17 Jan.,2010, Auggie had a very good question, but no one has answered it. I would also like to know…”Is it really necessary to cover & place the dough in the fridge overnight???” And if so, what purpose does that serve??? (Does it make the dough rise to make the cake look like the beautiful picture up top?) Obviously, I’m no “chef”. I can cook…I make a mean homemade Jambalaya & a “to die for Gumbo”, but I have never in my 49 years baked a “homemade king cake”. Don’t know why…just always buy them. (So hard to just walk past them in the grocery store without picking one up.) And yes, someone said they’re good for breakfast…they got that right. So, as your very 1st comment asked…”ARE YOU A CHEF???” Guess I could click on your name at top of page & get the answer to that. Thanks for the recipe, Danno. Looks so good. My mouth is watering. OH YEA…HOW ‘BOUT THEM SAINTS ! ! ! Just 2 days till the BIG DAY! ! ! I believe with all of my heart & soul that the SAINTS can & will win this SUPERBOWL! We’ve come way too far to not just go ahead & win this last game of the season…(I say this so casually, yet I’m really very nervous, anxious, EXCITED, or whatever the word is to describe what I’m feeling.) I’ve been a SAINTS fan for so many years. I remember the first time we actually had a “winning season” & all of the “brown bags” people wore on their heads. That really ticked me off, but guess-to each his own… Anyway, thanks for the recipe. Sounds like it’ll make a great King Cake. Jackie D.

  18. Hey,

    I was looking for a king cake recipe and stumbled across this gem, I can’t wait to try it. I wanted to answer a question I saw about where to get a king cake shipped from. I heard someone mention Randazzo’s and unfortunately there are quite a few of them. The Randazzo’s that makes the best king cakes is Manny Randazzo’s, here’s their web-site where you can order some to be shipped: http://www.randazzokingcake.com

    I live in New Orleans, and I’m sure just about anyone down here yall ask, they’ll tell you the best king cakes are at manny randazzo’s :D Well it’s fat tuesday today, thanks for the great recipe, now I’m off to go see Zulu and Rex!! Let the good times roll ya’ll!!!

  19. I am an Activities Director at a nursing facility in a small town in Ohio. I have been throwing Mardi Gras parties for a few years now and I am just learning some of the background behind it. I plan on attempting this recipe as we are not having our party until Friday. I am excited to let the residents attempt something new. We dont even have king cakes in our stores so this is the first time I’ve seen one. While I mhere though, does anyone have any ideas for things that seniors can do to celebrate. I have beads but…. U know. LOL….. Thanks

  20. So many have asked in resting the brioche dough over night is necessary, I have been making brioche for close to seven years, while I do not think it is mandatory, it makes a much better dough and much much easier to handle, it is very soft and rich. I have not made a king cake though. The resting of the dough makes the dough create more gluten, but very slowly so that you also do not toughen up the dough at the same time. In fact many brioche recipes have you create a sponge for about 4 to 10 hours before you even begin the dough proper. The longer you let the dough ferment the better the taste. By placing it in the refrigerator, it does not grow too fast, or over ferment and go sour plus you have butter and eggs, and they can go off quickly if not properly stored. And I would assume that in NOLA the humidity and heat would not be so good for dough and sponge left out for 10 plus hours unless it is a dairy-less dough.

    I love, truly love this site. I grew up eating a very spicy(Texan) variation of gumbo, fired catfish, greens and much other soul, creole and other sought tasties. This is by far the best content of the subject I have found and I making the muffuletta to take with us to the ball game this week. Cannot wait.

  21. I love this site, but sadly this recipe was a total loss for me– I had to add about a cup more of flour, and though my yeast frothed, the dough never rose, so I threw it out… I’ll try again on a day in which fewer things have gone wrong (bad days often translate to bad bread) but… the thing that occurs to me is that I’ve never proofed yeast without sugar before? I’m sure that this is just me.

  22. I love this recipe! I just baked the cake off earlier today and it was a hit. It’s a bit on the small side compared to what you see at the grocery store but it enough to split with 8 adults who aren’t pigs. I used all milk for my liquid and it was fine. Love this recipe and plan on making it again next week :)

  23. Something is wrong with this recipe. I’ve made breads and various pastries before, so I feel like I basically know what I’m doing. Once you’ve added the flour, the dough is so dry and tough that it’s almost impossible to knead, and you can forget about the butter staying solid while you work it in–the dough is just too tough.

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