Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

King cake is a New Orleans tradition that involves a pastry, a tiny plastic baby, and a party! The cake is baked with a tiny plastic baby hidden inside; whoever gets the slice with the baby in it has to host the next party. Make sure to buy a new tiny plastic baby so you can get the full effect from this cake! Sprinkle with purple, green, and gold sugar, or decorate with whole pecans and candied cherries.

Let the good times roll with this authentic king cake recipe! The famous Mardi Gras dessert is surprisingly easy to make at home.

What Is a King Cake?

A king cake is a type of cake that’s associated with Mardi Gras, New Orleans, and parts of the Gulf Coast. It’s a ring-shaped pastry that’s usually covered in icing, then topped with yellow and purple edible glitter or sprinkles. The cake traditionally contains a porcelain or plastic baby that is supposed to bring good luck to whoever winds up with it in their slice.

King Cake Tradition

The tradition of the king cake dates back to the Middle Ages. It was originally made to celebrate the Catholic Epiphany, a.k.a. Three Kings Day. French settlers brought the cake (and the traditions behind it) to Louisiana in the 1800s. So what’s the meaning behind the baby?

Some say the tiny token represents the Baby Jesus, while others believe it comes from another Louisiana tradition of hiding a bean or trinket in one slice of cake during the king’s ball — whoever found the trinket would be crowned the “king” or “queen” of the ball. Regardless of its origins, the baby is said to bring good luck and prosperity.

Cook’s Notes

  • Be sure to tell everyone to inspect their piece of cake before they begin eating it. To be extra careful, you can use a plastic toy baby that is too large to swallow.
  • You can also hide an orange wedge or 3 to 4 pecan halves inside the cake (avoiding items that may hurt someone’s teeth), then place the honorable toy baby on top of the cake for all to see and adore!

    How to Make King Cake

    You’ll find the step-by-step recipe below, but here’s a brief overview of what you can expect:

    1. Make the pastry and activate the yeast.
    2. Add the pastry to the yeast mixture and whisk in the eggs. Stir in remaining sugar, salt, and nutmeg.

Test Kitchen Tips

This top-rated user recipe was tested in our test kitchen. Here are some tips from recipe taster Liz Mervosh:

  • Don’t roll up the logs too tight when you roll up the logs, as the pecans and raisins might rip through.
  • Putting the glaze on while the cake is warm gives a nice drizzle effect and helps the glaze spread evenly over the cake. If using sanding sugar, make sure to put it on immediately after the drizzle, otherwise, the glaze will dry, and the sugar will not adhere.
  • If you want to get wild, you can make a cream cheese icing instead of the powdered sugar glaze.

How to Store King Cake

Store your leftover king cake in an airtight container at room temperature for two to three days.

Can You Freeze King Cake?

Yes, you can freeze unfrosted king cake. Wrap each slice individually in storage wrap, then follow it up with at least one layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to three months.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

This is a great recipe, a family favorite,” says Lisa Kotyko. “The only modification I make is to double the filling recipe. Can’t have too many pecans. Scrumptious.

I have been making this recipe for a while,” according to Erin Reeves Denk. “It is easy and delicious! And I am from Louisiana and it tastes like home.

Easy recipe with helpful video that I really appreciated,” raves Maddie Lynn. “I subbed pistachios for the pecans and dried cranberries for the raisins. The finished pastry was much like a coffee cake, light and tasty. I’ll definitely make it again.


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