King Cake with Cream Cheese and Strawberry Jam Filling (Video)
This King Cake with cream cheese and strawberry jam filling is absolutely amazing. The texture is exactly like the one in the traditional New Orleans King Cake. I make this traditional dessert every February for Mardi Gras, but 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. I even uploaded a video so you can see exactly how I made it.
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.
I don’t recommend substitutions for any of the ingredients in this recipe. If you want to make the King Cake with cream cheese and strawberry jam filling authentic, follow the recipe exactly as it is.
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.
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.
The second proof is at room temperature. Covered with towels, away from drafts and vents.
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.
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.
Cool off the King Cake before icing it.
Store leftover King Cake in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
King Cake with Cream Cheese and Strawberry Jam Filling
- 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 half a stick
- For the Filling
- 16 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 jar strawberry jam 16.5 oz
- For the Icing
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 Tbsp whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- yellow, purple and green sugars
- nonstick cooking spray
- Start by warming up the milk and melting the butter. I do that in the microwave, but you can do it on the stovetop. Remove the cream cheese from the fridge.
- 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 and place it the refrigerator for an hour.
- To prepare the filling mix the cream cheese (at room temperature), powdered sugar and the vanilla until well combined. No need to use a mixer.
- After the hour has passed remove the dough from the fridge and divide it to 3 equal parts. Roll each one to a rectangle (about 8×16 in).
- Spread ⅓ of the cream cheese mixture and the jam on the long side of the rectangle. Then roll it carefully to a thin roll.
- Repeat the same step with the rest of the dough until you have three rolls with the same length. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then braid the three rolls and close the two edges to form a reef (look at the video).
- Spray a small oven safe bowl with non stick spray and put it in the middle of the braided dough (optional). Then proof it for 30 minutes at room temperature or in a slightly warm oven (110F). If you proof it at room temperature cover it with a towel and keep away from drafts.
- Preheat the oven to 355F.
- After the second proofing is done, 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.
- 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).