Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.   It is a festive holiday celebrating the last day of decadence before the forty days of Lent.  There are many countries that celebrate Mardi Gras and each have their own traditions that are followed.  Here in the United States the biggest Mardi Gras celebration takes place in New Orleans.  This day takes place next Tuesday but believe me the party has already started.  The crowds are already filing in and there will be multiple parties, parades and all sorts of festivities from now through Fat Tuesday.  Then it all comes to a screeching halt………or does it?   Mardi Gras is also known (especially to locals) as Carnival.

The king cake is a tradition associated with Mardi Gras.  Though originally from Europe the Mardi Gras king cake has become an iconic symbol of the city of New Orleans and its famous take on Mardi Gras.  This famous cake is not just for eating.  It has a hidden treasure inside which is usually a plastic baby.  Whoever gets the baby in their piece of cake is the “king” of the party and will also be responsible for providing the cake for next years party.

For those of you planning your own Mardi Gras celebration here is the recipe for this fun, festive cake. It is much like a coffee cake but with the bold Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple and green.  This recipe makes two king cakes, so you get to keep one and take one to your party.  Have fun, be safe and ENJOY!!!!!



1 c milk

1/4 c butter

2 packages active dry yeast

2/3 c warm water

1/2 c white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


1 c packed brown sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

2/3 c chopped pecans

1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/2 c raisins

1/2 c melted butter


1 c confectioners sugar

1 tbsp water

Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 c of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tbsp of the sugar.  Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

When yeast is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg.  Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Combine all of the ingredients to make the filling mixture and give it a good stir.

Roll out each dough half into large rectangles about 10 x 16.  Spread the filling mixture onto each half and begin to tightly roll them up (like a jelly roll).  Bring the ends together to form a ring. Make a slight oval shape.  Place on cookie sheets. With a pair of scissors, make slits that are cut 1/3 of the way into the rolls at 1″ intervals. Let rise again for about 30 minutes.  Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Make frosting by combining the confectioners sugar with water.  Push plastic baby down into cooked cake.  Pour frosting over cake while still warm.  Sprinkle with colored sugar if you like.

This recipe was found at .

11 thoughts on “Mardi Gras King Cake

  1. I love how that looks. It’s funny that every culture seems to have their version of “Something” baked in a cake and whoever finds it gets good luck. In Greece there’s a vasilopita with a coin in it. It’s cut on New Years Day and the person who gets it gets good luck for the rest of the year. I can’t even remember what it tastes like but we always wanted that coin!

  2. Gorgeous job. I have successfully managed to avoid eating too much King Cake this year, but this made me want some. The French version of the cake is amazing as well, almond paste sandwiched between layers of puff pastry. I live in Baton Rouge now, but I still work in New Orleans frequently and I stop by the French bakery uptown to pick one up every Mardi Gras. Everyone loves it because it is a little different.

    1. Thanks! I have come across several different versions I would like to try. I have been lucky enough to have one from Haydel’s in New Orleans. It spoiled me, mine just didn’t compare. The French version sounds delicious!

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