My Take on the King Cake

king cake 017Apparently, there are two schools of thought concerning King Cake. School Number One says that "authentic" King Cakes should have a wee baby shoved inside them. They should be seasoned with lemon and contain raisins. Maybe they should have some sort of cream cheese filling. And they absolutely must have purple, gold and green Very Sweet glaze on them. School Numero Dos says that there really is no such thing as an "authentic" King Cake, that it's origins are Clouded in Mystery and that pretty much anything goes, as long as it is Festive and Served between Epiphany and the start of Lent.

Guess which school I go to?  That's right, I'm Team Dos all the way.

So, here's what I did.  I used my standard sweet dough recipe that you can find on the Cinnamon Roll video, and I tweaked it just a bit.  I didn't want a crazy sweet glaze, so it's got a bit of sour cream in it for a bit of tang, along with a pinch of salt and some Other Items.  Come let me show you:

King Cake a la PMAT

  • 2 oz honey (yes, I weighed it)
  • 3 oz melted butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 Tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice (or a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla
  • 20 oz all purpose flour
  • 6-8 oz buttermilk or sour milk (1 tablespoon lemon juice plus enough milk to make a cup)
  • about 3/4 cups total chopped dried cherries and dried cranberries.  If you're feeling swanky, plump them up in some rum.  I didn't, and it was Just Fine.

This is a straight dough, meaning you just dump everything together and let 'er rip with the dough hook.  I did, however, put the melted butter and honey together first to heat up the honey and thin it out some.

Once the honey and butter were combined, I added everything else, but I made sure the yeast was on top of the flour, so it wouldn't get all coated with fat.  Which it Does Not Like.  Add 6 ounces of buttermilk and mix.  If dough seems too stiff, add the rest of the milk.  The dough should not be sticky, but it should be smooth and supple.

Once the dough is thoroughly mixed (using the dough hook is just fine), turn the mixer up to medium/medium-low and knead the dough for 7 minutes.  Add the chopped fruit and knead for another minute or two until evenly distributed.

Form the dough into a nice smooth ball and put it in a greased bowl.  Spray the top of the dough with some pan spray, cover and let rise in a warm-ish place for about 2 hours, or until doubled.

Press out the gases and let rise again until doubled, another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

After the second rise, press out gases and weigh the dough.  Mine weighed 42 ounces.  Divide it into three equal pieces, 14 ounces each, for me.

Roll each piece into a smooth rope about 2 feet long.

Take all three ropes and press them together at one end.

King CakeBraid loosely all the way to the end. If you braid too tightly, your braid will kind of pull apart and tear in the oven. It will still taste good, but we got docked points for torn braids in culinary school, so I just thought I'd pass it along.

Bring the braid around and form a circle with it. Press the ends of the braid to the start of the braid, trying hard to make it look like one continuous braid.  I did reasonably well with this.  Just reasonably.

Cover and let rise for about an hour, until puffed somewhat and lovely.

Melt an ounce of butter and brush it all over the surface of your braid.

Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature is between 195-200F.

Let cool on a rack until, well, cool.

(Sorry--no measurements, here.  You know how I am)

  • powdered sugar (maybe 1 1/2-2 cups)
  • pinch of salt
  • about 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • about 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • about 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
  • a couple of spoonfuls sour cream
  • enough milk to make a very thick glaze


  • sparkly sugar in green, purple and gold.  You could also use organic pansies, but I couldn't find any.
  • Various pieces of Mardi Gras bric-a-brac

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Whisk together all ingredients into a Glaze-like Consistency.  Drizzle liberally over your naked King Cake.  Sprinkle on the sugars and Artfully arrange the bric-a-brac.

king cake 063
Try to be patient enough to let the glaze set up before you put this in your face, but I won't hold it against you if you can't.

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Enjoy, and have a lovely day!

PS  If you feel the need to shove a wee plastic baby up in the bread, don't let me stop you.


  1. says

    I love love King Cake!!! So excited to see your blog, it looks fun to make:) Love the idea of including craisins. The pictures are sooo beautiful:) You definitely have a new follower!
    Take care,

    • says

      Thank you so much; I really appreciate all the encouragement! Now, if you could just talk to those people at foodgawker and tastespotting and tell them to accept my photos… 😉

    • says

      Why, thank you, Camille! I wasn’t going to put all the colored sugar on it (it did make it awfully sweet), but something came over me, and I just had to go for it! Scraping off some of the icing before eating was a good idea, though. 🙂

  2. Cindy says

    I wasn’t happy with the recipe I found for my king cake last year, so it’s nice to have yours to try. Right now I’m experimenting with a ton of sourdough bread recipes and 2 starters, plus shopping for cheap bannetons.


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