Mardi Gras King Cake

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Dessert American
By Original Recipe by Barbara Bakes Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: ~2.5 Hours Cooking Time: 20-25 Minutes Total Time: ~3 Hours

Slightly sweet brioche; filled with cinnamon sugar, braided, baked, frosted and decorated with Mardi Gras colored sprinkles, It's a King Cake!


  • 3.5 cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 Package Quick Rise Yeast (2.25 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cut into 12 pieces, softened
  • Cinnamon Sugar Filling
  • 2/3 cup packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 1.5 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • Icing and Decoration
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp. Milk, plus more to thin icing
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
  • Green, Purple, and Yellow or Gold Sugars
  • Miniature Plastic Baby



In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast and all but 1 cup of the flour. Give it about 30 seconds on low to combine.


Next, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar, salt, and milk. gently warm the milk to 120-130 degrees F. Stir to dissolve the sugar and the salt.


With the mixer on low, pour the warm milk into the flour and yeast. Then add each egg, one at a time, mixing to combine between each egg.


Now, switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Scrape off any dough stuck to the paddle and add it to the mixture. With the dough hook attached, turn the mixer to low and add the remaining flour a little at a time and mix until a soft dough forms.


With the mixer still on low, drop in one pice of softened butter at a time, letting the individual pieces of butter get mixed and absorbed into the dough before adding the next piece of butter. When the butter is all mixed in, let the mixer knead the dough on low, for 8 minutes. If the dough is super sticky after this 8 minute knead, add flour one tablespoon at a time and mix until the dough is smooth and soft.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times to get a smooth, elastic dough and shape it into a ball. Lightly oil a large bowl with a neutral-tasting oil, like grapeseed oil. Place the dough ball in the bowl and turn it over to coat the dough ball in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling


In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and the light brown sugar. Mix together well, then add the softened butter. Use a firm silicone spatula to smash the butter into the sugar and cinnamon until the butter is totally incorporated.

Assembling the King Cake


Roll the dough into a 10x20-inch rectangle.


Spread the cinnamon sugar filling on one half of a long side of the rolled dough.


Then fold the naked side of the dough over the filling. press down firmly to release any trapped air and to seal the dough.


Once it's folded, reshape the ends into more of a rectangle.


Use a roller cutter to cut the rectangle into three long strips. Press the tops of the strips together, then braid the strips.


Once the length is braided, press the bottoms together to seal the braid. Gently stretch the braid back out to 20-inches long. Line a sheet tray with sheet of parchment. Shape the dough into a circle or oval and place the braided oval on the parchment-line sheet tray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.


After its one-hour second rise, bake the King Cake for 20-30 minutes. It should read about 190 degrees on a probe thermometer and feel firm to the touch. Let it cool slightly on the pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.


When the cake is cooled mix together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Add more milk as needed to get a pourable consistency. Then drizzle the icing over the cake and decorate with purple, gold (or yellow) and green sugars.