How to Prepare Authentic King Cake for Mardi Gras (Video)
I make this authentic King Cake every February for Mardi Gras. It is a traditional New Orleans dessert that is loved by everyone in Louisiana. I make this dessert only once a year. It is so delicious that I can’t control myself. To prepare a King Cake you make this enriched yeasted dough. Then you stuff it with brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Once it is baked you ice the King cake and sprinkle with colorful sugar on top. It is so yummy.
It took me years to perfect this recipe. Although, I was always on point with the flavor, the texture was tricky. For those of you who never tried King Cake I’ll explain. This original dessert has slightly dense texture and the inside looks like it has thick threads. My previous attempts to make this original recipe always resulted in a fluffy and soft texture. In this blog post I’m sharing my secrets for the perfect New Orleans King Cake.
Helpful tips about making the authentic king Cake
Before you start.
Warm the whole milk to 120F. This will help the with the yeast activation.
Melt your butter in the microwave or on the stove.
Measure your ingredients. Getting organized and ready for the process will help you achieving best results.
How to measure flour?
Always scoop more flour than you need in your cup and use a knife to level it off. If you have a scale use it, because measuring ingredients by weigh is always more accurate. One cup of flour contains exactly 4 oz or 125 grams of all purpose flour.
Never add the yeast and the salt together! I usually add the yeast to the liquid ingredients and salt to the flour no matter what type of dough I’m making. Salt can inhibit the action of the yeast.
Different brands of flour may create different results. The amount of the flour may differ depending on the brand. Your goal is to produce soft and elastic dough that is not sticky. You may need more or less flour depending on how big are your eggs. The more liquid you have the more flour you will need.
The first proof is in the fridge. This is the secret to the perfect King Cake texture. To form this thread-like interior of the traditional dessert we are not allowing the dough to get too fluffy.
Add the melted butter when the dough is ready one tablespoon at a time. This will create the flaky dough.
Other helpful tips
The second proof is at room temperature or in the oven. If it is at room temperature, cover it with a towel and keep it away from drafts and vents. If you proof in the oven at preheat it to 110F. This will keep it away from drafts and keep the temperature constant. The oven method is my preferred method.
Baking time may vary depending on the type of pan you use. Also, every oven is different, so please use your own judgment when baking.
Cool off the King Cake completely before icing it.
If you can’t find colorful sugar you can make it yourself. In a bowl add a quarter cup of sugar and add 1-2 drops of liquid food color of your choice (I used plant based food coloring). Stir well until the color looks even and there are no lumps.
Store leftover King Cake covered on the counter top for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
Authentic King Cake for Mardi Gras
- Stand mixer
For the dough
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk slightly warm 120F
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 cups all purpose flour or as much as you need to form a dough
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp melted butter
For the filling
- 2 cups brown sugar
- ½ cup melted butter
- 2 tsp cinnamon
For the icing
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 Tbsp whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- yellow, purple and green sugars
- nonstick cooking spray
To prepare the dough
- Start by warming up the milk and melting the butter. I do that in the microwave, but you can do it on the stovetop.
- Crack two eggs in a mixing bowl and add the milk (120F), yeast and the sugar. Then add one cup of the flour and the salt. Use the dough hook attachment to mix all the ingredients together (on low speed). When you get a wet dough gradually add the rest of the flour (one cup at a time) and continue mixing on low.
- Once the flour is incorporated add the melted butter one tablespoon at a time while mixing. Save some butter to apply on the dough and prevent it from sticking to the sides of the bowl during proofing.
- The dough is ready when it is no longer sticking to your hands. If it is still sticking add some more flour. Once the dough is ready add some melted butter in the bowl and oil the dough well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and place it the refrigerator for an hour.
To prepare the filling and form the king cake
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it to a rectangle (about 20 inches long and 10 inches wide).
- Combine the brown sugar, melted butter and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir well until it looks like a sticky paste.
- Spread the filling on the dough.
- Starting at the long side, roll the dough up to form a long thin log. Then attach both ends together to make a reef. Transfer the reef to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Spray a small oven safe bowl with non stick spray and put it in the middle of the reef (optional). Then proof for 30 minutes. I proof it in a slightly warm oven (110F). If you proof it at room temperature it might need a longer time. Always cover the raw dough with a towel and keep away from drafts.
- If you proofing in the oven take out the king cake out and preheat the oven to 355F.
- Bake the King Cake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cool off the King Cake on a cooling rack. Remove the small bowl placed in the middle with oven mitts or wait until it is cooled off and safe to handle.
To prepare the icing
- Prepare the icing by adding the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl and stir until there are no lumps left.
- Spoon the icing on top of the King Cake and sprinkle on the colored sugars (alternating between the three colors).