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Mardi Gras King Cake

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Mardi Gras King Cake

What is a Mardi Gras king cake?

The king cake gets its name from the story of the three kings who brought gifts to baby Jesus. A plastic baby is hidden within this New Orleans culinary jewel, and whoever finds it has to provide the next cake or host a party, sparking a never-ending circle of food and fun. The miniature plastic baby symbolises baby Jesus to signify the Epiphany. 

New Orleans is synonymous with Mardi Gras, po'boy sandwiches, beignets and king cake — whether at the workplace, school or home, king cake is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the Mardi Gras season. The king cake makes its appearance in supermarkets and bakeries between early January and Ash Wednesday. Bakeries across the city begin selling it as early as December, but always at the start of carnival.

This heavenly treat is made from sweet brioche dough and filled with a delicious blend of butter, brown sugar, raisins, and pecans. The dough is then shaped into a ring and topped with icing and green, gold and purple sprinkles.

It's absolutely possible to prepare this New Orleans tradition at home. Check out our recipe to make your own colourful and delightfully-tasting Mardi Gras king cake.

Mardi Gras king cake recipe

Total time: 1 hour
Serves for: 16
Yield: 2 cakes

07 March, 2022
Average: 4 (3 votes)

serves for


total time

1 HR 0 MIN


1 cup
¼ cup
Active dry yeast
2 (.25 ounce) packages
Warm water
⅔ cup (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
white sugar
½ cup
1 ½ teaspoons
Freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon
All purpose flour
5 ½ cups
Packed brown sugar
1 cup
Ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon
⅔ cup
All purpose flour
½ cup
½ cup
Melted butter
½ cup
Confectioner's sugar
1 cup
1 tablespoon

Step 01

Scald the milk, remove it from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow the mixture to cool. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Leave to stand for 10 minutes until creamy.

Step 02

As soon as the yeast mixture begins to bubble, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Add the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Incorporate the flour one cup at a time into the milk/egg mixture. Once the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for eight to ten minutes.

Step 03

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, add the dough and turn it to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Divide dough in half after it has risen.

Step 04

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Step 05

To make the filling: mix brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup raisins. Mix 1/2 cup melted butter with the cinnamon mixture until crumbly.

Step 06

Make large rectangles out of the dough halves (approximately 10x16 inches). Spread the filling evenly over the dough and roll up tightly each half like a jelly roll, starting at the wide side. Form two oval-shaped rings by joining the ends of the rolls. Lay each ring on a cookie sheet. Make cuts 1 inch apart, 1/3 through the rings with scissors. Let it rise until it has doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Step 07

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Insert the baby Jesus doll into the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

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