King Cake Recipe

King Cake

Erik Rank / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
209 Calories
10g Fat
23g Carbs
8g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 209
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 133mg 44%
Sodium 430mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Protein 8g
Calcium 62mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This basic Louisiana King cake is made with a rich brioche dough. If possible, use a stand mixer with paddle and dough hook attachments to mix and knead the dough.

The king cake is made for Louisana's carnival season which ends with the Mardi Gras. According to legend, whoever finds with hidden bean, coin, or figurine will have good luck.


  • For the Brioche Dough:
  • 1/2 cup water (lukewarm, 110 to 115 degrees)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups flour (sifted, all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (granulated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly, grated)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind (grated)
  • 1/2 cup milk (lukewarm)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 large eggs (the yolks)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk for the egg wash)
  • 1 bean (dried, or a coin, or tiny china baby doll)
  • For the Vanilla Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup sugar (sifted confectioners')
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Garnish: colored sugars (purple, yellow, and green)
  • Garnish: candied cherries (and other fruits, as desired)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the dough ingredients.

  2. Soften yeast in water in a small bowl.

  3. Combine flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt in a separate large mixing bowl. Stir in lemon peel.

  4. Make a well in center of the dry ingredients and pour into it the yeast mixture and milk. Add eggs and egg yolks, and with a large wooden spoon gradually incorporate dry ingredients into liquid ones.

  5. Add eggs and egg yolks, and with a large wooden spoon gradually incorporate dry ingredients into liquid ones. Beat in butter and continue beating until dough forms a ball.

  6. Place the dough on floured board and sprinkle with more flour if necessary to keep from sticking to the bowl or surface.  

  7. Knead by hand or with the mixer with the dough hook attachment until smooth and elastic.

  8. Brush inside of large bowl with 1 tablespoon softened butter.

  9. Set the dough in bowl and turn it to coat the entire surface with the butter. Cover the bowl and set aside for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

  10. Brush a large baking sheet with remaining butter.

  11. Punch dough down on lightly floured surface.

  12. Knead for a few minutes, then pat and shape dough into a long roll about 14 inches long.

  13. Place on baking sheet and form into a circle.

  14. Brush with the egg and milk mixture. Press bean or doll into dough so that it is hidden.

  15. Set aside again to rise for about 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours, until doubled. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven. Heat the oven to 375 F (190 C/Gas 5).

  16. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Slide the cake onto wire rack to cool.

  17. Gather the glaze ingredients.

  18. In a small mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar with 2 teaspoons milk and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Stir until smooth.

  19. Once cake has cooled, decorate it by drizzling the glaze on the cake and topping with colored sugars while the glaze is still wet. Embed the candied fruit "jewels" in the King's "crown."

Using a Stand Mixer

The mixing and kneading can be done in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for mixing, and dough hook for the kneading steps.

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