Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

Recipe Rating: 3.04908
15 servings
Mardi Gras king cakes traditionally have a small trinket, such as a small bean or tiny, plastic toy baby, hidden inside them. The person who finds the trinket in their piece of cake becomes the king or queen for the day.
  • 2 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm milk, divided
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Natural green, purple and yellow food coloring
  • 1 whole egg
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Pour 1/2 cup warm (110°F to 115°F) water into a small bowl and sprinkle with yeast and 2 teaspoons of the granulated sugar and stir to combine. Set bowl aside in a warm place until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift together 3 1/2 cups of the flour, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cardamom, allspice and salt in a large bowl. Stir in lemon zest, then make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour yeast mixture, 1/2 cup milk, and egg yolks into well and stir slowly with a wooden spoon to combine well. (Alternately, use a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment to mix ingredients.) When mixture is smooth, beat in 8 tablespoons of the butter about 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue to beat 2 minutes more, or until dough can be formed into a medium-soft ball. If using a standing mixer with a hook attachment, continue to knead dough in mixer for 10 minutes on medium speed. Alternately, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, adding up to 1 cup more flour about 1 tablespoon at a time as needed so that dough is shiny, elastic and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes.

Using a pastry brush, coat the inside of a large bowl evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Place dough ball in bowl and turn to coat with butter. Cover bowl and place in a warm spot for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough doubles in volume.

Remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured surface. Using your fist, punch dough down with a heavy blow. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top, then pat and form dough into a long rope. Pinch ends together to form a large circle. Cover dough with towel and set in a warm spot for 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume again.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Beat the whole egg and remaining 1 tablespoon of milk together in a small bowl to make an egg wash. Brush top and sides of dough ring with egg wash, then bake on a baking sheet on middle rack of oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Place cake on wire rack to cool, then hide a trinket in the cake by poking it up through the bottom. Combine powdered sugar, lemon juice and 3 tablespoons water in a bowl and whisk until smooth. If icing is too stiff, add more water until spreadable. Divide icing among three small bowls and color each separately with drops of green, purple and yellow food coloring. Spread icing over top of cake in alternate colors, making about 2 sections for each color. Cut cake into slices and serve.
Nutritional Info: 
Per Serving: Serving size: 1 slice, 340 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 100mg cholesterol, 320mg sodium, 58g carbohydrates, (1 g dietary fiber, 31g sugar), 6g protein.
Special Diets: 

Note: We've provided special diet and nutritional information for educational purposes. But remember — we're cooks, not doctors! You should follow the advice of your health-care provider. And since product formulations change, check product labels for the most recent ingredient information. See our Terms of Service.