King cake is typically enjoyed during Carnival, beginning with the Epiphany on January 6th and continuing until Fat Tuesday. A small plastic baby is often hidden inside the cake, and the person who receives the slice with the baby is responsible for bringing next year’s cake. Once you serve it, make sure to alert your guests to the choking hazard!
3 hr 40 min
3 hr 40 min
3 hr 40 min
3 hr 40 min
for 12 servings
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ cup milk (180 mL), lukewarm
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour (435 g), plus more for dusting
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50 g)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
- ¾ stick unsalted butter
- ¾ cup brown sugar (150 g)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar (275 g)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- green sparkling sugar
- yellow sparkling sugar
- purple sparkling sugar
- 1 large dried bean
- Calories 411
- Fat 2g
- Carbs 83g
- Fiber 11g
- Sugar 36g
- Protein 13g
Estimated values based on one serving size.
- Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the melted butter, milk, eggs, flour, granulated sugar, yeast, salt, lemon zest, and nutmeg. Mix on medium-low speed for 7–8 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the dough is silky smooth.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Grease a medium bowl with nonstick spray, transfer the dough to the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until about 1½ times its original size.
- While the dough is rising, make the filling: In a separate medium bowl, combine the softened butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined.
- Make the egg wash: In a small bowl, beat together the egg and milk with a fork until thoroughly combined.
- Assemble the king cake: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the top and roll out to a 10 x 22-inch rectangle. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the rectangle lengthwise into 3 even strips.
- Use a small offset or silicone spatula to spread the filling evenly over half of the long side of each strip, leaving the other half of each strip uncovered. Brush the uncovered dough lightly with the egg wash. Starting from the side with the filling, roll each strip into a log and position seam-side down. Press one end of each of the logs together, then braid the logs into a single long strand. Bring the ends of the braid together to make a ring, pressing together to secure. Carefully transfer the ring to the prepared baking sheet, making sure to maintain the large opening in the center. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof in a warm place for 30-45 minutes, until the dough is pillowy to the touch.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Brush the ring with egg wash. Bake for 30–32 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
- Decorate the cake: Carefully flip the cake upside down and use a sharp knife to create a small slit in the bottom. Hide the plastic baby in the slit. Flip the cake right-side up.
- Make the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, the lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Add the remaining milk as needed to create a thick, yet pourable glaze.
- Pour the glaze evenly over the top of the cake. While the glaze is still wet, decorate with alternating stripes of green, yellow, and purple sparkling sugar. Let the icing set for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
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