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5 from 2 votes

Mardi Gras King Cake

Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Proofing Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 45 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: king cake
Servings: 14 servings


For the Dough:

  • 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour (510 grams)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (50 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (6 grams)
  • 1 packet instant yeast (7 grams)
  • 1/2 cup milk (115 ml)
  • 1/2 cup water (115 ml)
  • 5 tablespoons butter (71 grams)
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk

For the Filling:

  • 1/4 cup melted butter (56 grams)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (110 grams)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (100 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (8 grams)

For the Icing:

  • 2 cups powered sugar (225 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup or agave
  • 3 tablespoons milk

For the Sugars:

  • 3/4 cup sanding sugar (1/4 cup per color)
  • Food coloring


Make the dough:

  • Note: You will add in the flour in increments so pay close attention to the amount.
  • Combine 2 cups (270g) of flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl of a stand mixer.
  • In a small saucepan, heat milk and water over the stovetop on low heat until 110°. It doesn't take long to warm up to the temperature so watch it closely.
  • With a paddle attachment, turn the mixer to low (1) and slowly add the liquid to the dry ingredients until it incorporates.
  • Add the egg and egg yolk still mixing on low speed.
  • Add one cup (136 grams) of flour until it is just incorporated and then switch to a dough hook.
  • Beat on medium speed (4) for one minute and then start adding the room temperature butter in slices to the dough. Wait until the butter is fully incorporated before adding the next butter slice.
  • On low speed (1), add the remaining 3/4 cup (104g) of flour to the dough.
  • Increase the speed back to medium (4) and continue to beat the dough for another 8 minutes. The dough will be sticky but should come off the sides of the bowl.
  • On a floured surface, knead the dough for another 2 minutes, dusting the surface again with flour when it becomes too sticky. The dough will be elastic and slightly sticky. Place dough into a well-greased bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rise for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Right before it has finished rising, begin making the filling.

Make the Filling & Assemble

  • In a bowl, melt the butter and then add the sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon to the butter.
  • On a floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 13 inches x 17 inches.
  • Spread the filling on the top of the dough and gently rub it into the dough.
  • Cut the dough into 3 long strips lengthwise (about 4 inches wide). Roll each dough piece into a log and pinch the ends closed. At the top, pinch all 3 logs together and then begin to braid the three strips together. Start with the left, cross it over the middle log, then take the right log and cross it over the middle. When you get to the end, pinch the other end together so that it forms an oval ring.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer to your dough ring to the sheet. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
  • While it is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C fan.
  • Brush the top of the dough with an egg wash and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, if the top is golden brown and bottom is still not baked, cover the top with foil and continue baking for another 5 minutes. Be careful not to overbake.
  • After it is cooked, allow it to cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet before moving it to a wire cooling rack.

Make the Icing & Decorate:

  • In a small mixing bowl, all the powdered sugar, lemon juice, corn syrup and milk. Stir until combined.
  • Add 1/4 cup of sugar to 3 separate bowls. Add a drop of purple, green and yellow/gold food coloring to the sugar. Use the back of a spoon to mix together.
  • When the cake has cooled, add the icing to the top of the cake and then sprinkle with sugars. Tip: Use your hands to spread the icing around the cake. It's messy, but the best way to cover it evenly.