Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

Slicing a King Cake
Molly Watson
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    Easy Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

    Baked King Cake
    Molly Watson

    Canned crescent dough replaces a long-rising yeasted dough, and colored sugar replaces dyed royal icing to make the wide stripes of color —purple for justice, green for faith, and yellow for power—traditional on a Mardi Gras King Cake. Those two shortcuts make this the easiest king cake ever.

    You'll need:

    • 2 cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough
    • Purple, green, and gold colored sugar or sanding sugar (available at gourmet stores and party stores)
    • Filling (whirl 8 ounces cream cheese and 1 cup brown sugar  in a food processor until evenly combined; add 1/2 cup pecans; pulse to chop the nuts and combine; optional—add 1/2 cup drained rum-soaked raisins with the pecans)
    • Dried bean, whole almond, or ceramic figure token
    • Egg wash (1 beaten egg whisked with 2 tablespoons milk)
    • Optional: royal icing 
    • Optional: purple (red and blue work), green, and yellow food coloring

     

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    Overlap the Triangles of Dough on a Baking Sheet

    Lay Triangle on a Baking Sheet
    Molly Watson

    Begin by unrolling crescent roll dough and separating the dough into triangles and preheating an oven to 350 F.

    Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or cover the sheet with parchment paper.

    Position the triangles next to each other with the points toward the center, overlapping the long sides by about 1/4 inch. You will be forming a large circle with all of the triangles.

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    Create a Circle With the Triangles of Dough

    Lay All the Triangles to Create a Circle
    Molly Watson

    Continue laying all the triangles to make a circle. As you arrange the triangles, leave the edges of the seams unsealed so you can adjust them and move them around to get them in a relatively even circle. 

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    Press the Center Seams

    Press Inner Seams Together
    Molly Watson

    Use your fingers to press the center of the triangle edges together—just in the center where the filling is going to go. Leave the rest of the edges unsealed so you can fold both the outer and inner edges up and over the filling.

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    Add the Filling

    King Cake Filling
    Molly Watson

     Spread the filling evenly in a ring in the center of the dough as pictured.

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    Add the Token

    Add the "Baby"
    Molly Watson

    Some people may skip this step, but it's not a king cake without a token! You can use a dried red bean, a whole almond, or a small ceramic baby (representing the Christ child). Here, a fun little ceramic pig is used.

    When the cake is cut and shared, the finder of the hidden treasure is said to enjoy good luck for the coming year. The lucky recipient may also be expected to bake the King Cake or throw the Mardi Gras party for the following year.

    Place your token somewhere in the filling before enclosing the filling.

     

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    Fold Outer Edges of Dough Over the Filling

    Fold Outer Pieces First
    Molly Watson

    Fold the outer edge of each triangle toward the center just to the edge of the filling to cover.

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    Fold All Outer Edges of Dough

    Fold Over All Outer Pieces
    Molly Watson

    Continue in the circle until the filling is enclosed. 

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    Fold Dough Points Up and Over the Cake

    Fold Inside Edges
    Molly Watson

    Lift the pointed ends of the triangles up and over the cake toward the outer rim of the pan to fully enclose the filling, tucking under the points if they're long. Lightly press the seams.

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    King Cake Ready to Bake

    King Cake Enclosed
    Molly Watson

    Brush the cake with the egg wash.

    You can bake the cake now if you'd rather proceed with a traditional version that will be colored with icing at the end.

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    Add Colored Sugar

    Add Colored Sugar
    Molly Watson

    For the easiest king cake ever, though, you're going to add the color before baking, by creating wide stripes of color with the sanding sugar as shown here.

    Whether sugared or not, bake at 350 F until golden brown and cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

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    Easiest King Cake Ever!

    Baked King Cake
    Molly Watson

    Your king cake is ready to serve. Like most baked goods, it is best the day it is made.

    If you like easy, but you also like icing, feel free to drizzle on white royal icing—it looks pretty with the colored sugar.

    For a more traditional iced king cake, divide the icing evenly between 3 bowls. Add 2 drops purple or 2 drops each of red and blue to the first bowl to make purple. Use 2 drops yellow in the second bowl and 2 drops green in the third bowl. Mix the icing in each bowl so the dye is completely incorporated for an evenly colored icing.

    Use a spoon or spatula to paint wide striped of each color on the cake. For better control, scrape each individual bowl into its own sealable plastic bag, squeeze out all the air, seal the bag, snip off one corner of the bag, and use as a pastry bag to pipe wide stripes of icing on the King Cake. The icing should firm up and the cake ready to serve in about an hour.