Mardi Gras wouldn't be the same without a King Cake. Not to be prepared or eaten before January 6th, also known as Epiphany, Twelfth Night or Three Kings' Day, it's a rich yeast dough most commonly filled with cream cheese, shaped into an oval ring and topped with traditional Mardi Gras colors; purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power. Whomever finds the baby or pecan half baked within is to be the host of the next King Cake party.
Hands-On Time: 1 - 1 1/2 hours
Ready In: 5 hours
Yield: 18 - 20 servings
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
8 ounces cream cheese - softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar - divided
1 plastic King Cake baby or a half a pecan
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
milk - as needed
Colored sugars in purple, green and gold or yellow
- Combine milk, sugar and butter in a small saucepan. Heat over low flame until just warm -- about 110 to 115 degrees F.
- Mix yeast, 2 cups of the flour, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add warmed milk and stir well. If using a stand mixer, beat for several minutes with a paddle attachment.
- Add remaining flour, half a cup at a time, until dough starts to come together. Switch to a dough hook and knead for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If kneading by hand, this will take about 10 minutes.
- Remove bowl from mixer and add oil. Turn once to coat and cover loosely with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Let rise until double in bulk, about 2 hours.
- Make the filling; Combine cream cheese and 2 cups of powdered sugar. Add vanilla extract and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil sprayed with cooking oil.
- Punch down dough and let stand for 10 minutes. Roll dough into a rectangle about 20 inches long and 8 inches wide.
- Spread filling over half of the dough and add baby or pecan to dough surrounding filling. Roll up from long side. Bring ends together and seal well. Set ring on prepared baking sheet. Let rise again until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes.
- Combine remaining 4 cups powdered sugar with lemon juice and enough milk to make of spreading consistency. Spread over top of cake and sprinkle with sugars, alternating colors all the way around the cake.