Caroline’s King Cake

Can’t believe it’s that time again, but it’s Mardi Gras season! My personal favorite thing about Mardi Gras are King Cakes! If you have never had a king cake you are missing out. Nothing is better than a freshly baked one right out of the oven. There are a lot of local bakers that make yummy ones, but for those of you that don’t live in Louisiana I thought it would be fun to share my recipe that I have adapted through the years. I shared this recipe last year (Valentine’s Day edition) but thought I would re post and update just a tad. This past weekend was a cold one, so it was the perfect weekend to stay inside and bake!

-Recipe makes two king cakes


For the Pastry:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (active, not quick rising)
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (jar is fine)
  • 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour

For the Filling:

  • 2 packages cream cheese softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg

For the creamy vanilla glaze: 

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk, or more as needed, I think I used about 5-6
  • purple, green, and yellow sparkling sugars (can purchase at Michaels, Party City or Hobby Lobby)


  1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast mixture 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 to 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  4. Gently punch dough down; divide in half. Roll 1 portion out into a 22x12-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Keep the other portion covered. Spread 1/2 of the filling over rectangle, leaving a 1-inch border. Carefully roll up, starting from a long edge.
  5. Place roll, seam-side down, on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form a ring. Moisten ends with water; pinch together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Uncover dough rings.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until cakes are a deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes completely on wire racks, about 1 1/2 hours.
  8. Stir confectioners' sugar, melted butter, and vanilla extract together to make the glaze. Stir in 3 tablespoons milk. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until pourable but still opaque. Pour evenly over cakes. Sprinkle with sparkling sugars, alternating colors to form bands.

Download the Recipe as a PDF

I hope you enjoy this! This recipe yields two so plenty to eat or share with a neighbor! Also, must note, the colored sugars were purchased in the baking section at Michaels. Make sure you allow yourself time (a full day) because the dough needs plenty of time to rise. If you end up making this, please share with me. I would love to know what you think! Laissez les bon temps rouler! Happy Baking and Happy Mardi Gras!!