I’ve updated the traditional New Orleans King Cake recipe with a rum flavored dough and a pecan praline filling. Although King Cake is called a cake it is actually a sweet yeast bread similar to cinnamon bread. It doesn’t take long to make and you can divide this dough up into two smaller cakes or one large oval as I’ve done here. You can buy the plastic babies at about any store that carries party supplies – just be sure to push it into the cake from the bottom when the cake is finished baking.
For this recipe you’ll need: all purpose flour, yeast, egg, ground cinnamon, sugar, salt, butter, pecans, Confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, almond extract, heavy cream, green sanding sugar, purple sanding sugar, bright yellow or gold sanding sugar, parchment or silpat, plastic baby
If you are in a hurry click here to go straight to the King Cake recipe.
So, if you don’t know about King Cake here’s a quick anthropology lesson. King Cake is actually a sweet yeast bread that’s served in New Orleans from Epiphany (January 6) through the day before Lent begins. The colors that decorate the cake are green, yellow, and purple which stand for faith, power, and justice. A little plastic baby is tucked inside the cake after baking and whoever find it is “king for the day”… oh, and also gets to host the party next year!
But what if you are from a pragmatic state that could care less about Mardi Gras? Why should you make this cake?
Because it is SO good. You can put any color you want on the top and serve it as a coffee cake any time of the year, that’s why. I won’t tell if you leave the baby out and color the top with rainbow sprinkles. Just try this, ok?
Now, I added rum to the dough for flavor but if you don’t have alcohol around or prefer not to use it you can just substitute milk for the rum and add a tablespoon of vanilla extract.
This makes one really huge round of bread or you can divide it up and make two smaller ones. The breads freeze beautifully so no worries there. In fact, the next time I make them I think I’ll make them in individual sizes.
I want to go to New Orleans some day. I’ve never been. I don’t want to go for Mardi Gras — I’m not much of a party girl. I love history and historic architecture as well as great food. New Orleans has all of it. It’s so weird that I haven’t been… I mean I live in Texas which makes it achievable. There’s just always been something that comes up and keeps me from going!
If you want to experience a little New Orleans lifestyle give this King Cake recipe a try. 🙂
YOU MAY NEED…
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If you can’t find plastic babies locally then Amazon has what you’re looking for! I used Silpat under the dough because the filling does leak out a little. The silpat protects your baking sheet and keeps the dough from sticking. Trust me on this.
King Cake Recipe
Here’s the King Cake recipe. If you haven’t worked with yeast dough before you might want to read my series on working with yeast doughs before you start.
You can now change the serving sizes on recipes. Just hover over the serving size and adjust it up or down. The recipe will automatically adjust. Cool, huh?
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King Cake Dough
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water, 110F - 115F
- 1 cup warm milk, 110F
- 1/2 cup rum
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to 110F
- 5-2/3 to 6-2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/3 cup sugar, add a little more if you like a sweeter bread
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 plastic baby, find in the cake decorating or baby shower section
Pecan Praline Filling
- 1-1/2 cups pecans, chopped
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1-1/2 cups Confectioner's sugar
- 4 to 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- Green, Yellow, Purple sugars
King Cake Dough
- Stir the 1/2 cup warm water and the yeast together with a pinch of the sugar. Set aside until it's foamy - about 5 minutes
- Blend the egg, milk, rum, and butter and add to the yeast mixture.
- Stir in 3 cups of the flour, the cinnamon, the sugar, and the salt.
- Beat at medium speed about 2 minutes.
- Add the vital wheat gluten and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Knead about 4 minutes or 8 minutes by hand.
- Put in greased bowl, grease the top of the dough, and let rise in a warm place until double -- about an hour.
- Punch down and then let rest 10 minutes.
- Divide dough into 3 equally sized parts and roll each part into a long rectangle about 4 inches wide by 18 inches long.
- Spread the praline filling down the center of each rectangle. Sprinkle with pecans.
- Fold one side of the dough over the filling and pinch along the edge to seal. Gently roll into a cylinder. Repeat with each rectangle.
- Braid the filled cylinders and form into an oval.
- Bake at 400F about 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Bread is about 200F on the inside when it is finished.
- Remove from oven rub with butter, cover with a towel, and let cool.
- Tuck the plastic baby inside the cake somewhere.
Pecan Praline Filling
- Stir the brown sugar into the melted butter to make a smooth paste. Add the vanilla.
- Set aside until ready to fill and shape the dough.
King Cake Glaze
- Mix the Confectioner's, vanilla, almond extract, and cream until smooth. Add more cream as needed to get a thick glaze.
- Spread on cooled cake.
- Sprinkle the green, purple, and yellow sugars in thick sections on the glaze immediately.
If you liked traditional Mardi Gras recipe you may also like…
Cinnamon Bread, Easter Egg Bread, Cinnamon Rolls