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King Cake

King CakeA fitting end to a traditional Mardi Gras celebration, this highly recommended recipe originally appeared in Southern Living Magazine in January 1990.

Recipe Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 (0.25-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water (100°C to 110°F | 40°C to 45°C)
2 large eggs
6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour - divided use
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

Colored Frostings:
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 to 6 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 drops each of green, yellow, red, and blue liquid food coloring

Colored Sugars:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 to 2 drops each of green, yellow, red, and blue liquid food coloring

Cooking Directions:

  1. For Cake: Cook first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Cool mixture to 110°F (45°C).
  2. Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add butter mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until smooth. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
  3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°F / 30°C), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
  4. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
  5. Punch dough down; divide in half. Turn 1 portion out onto a lightly floured surface; roll to a 28 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half each of cinnamon mixture and softened butter on dough. Roll dough, jelly roll fashion, starting at long side. Place dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough, cinnamon mixture, and butter.
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for 15 minutes or until golden. Decorate with bands of Colored Frostings, and sprinkle with Colored Sugars.
  8. For Colored Frostings: Stir together powdered sugar and melted butter. Add milk to reach desired consistency for drizzling; stir in vanilla.
  9. Divide frosting into 3 batches, tinting 1 green, 1 yellow, and combining red and blue food coloring for purple frosting. Makes about 1 1/2 cups frosting.
  10. For Colored Sugars: Place 1/2 cup sugar and drop of green food coloring in a jar or zip-top plastic bag; seal. Shake vigorously to evenly mix color with sugar.
  11. Repeat procedure with 1/2 cup sugar and yellow food coloring.
  12. For purple, combine 1 drop red and 1 drop blue food coloring before adding to remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Makes 1/2 cup of each colored sugar.

Makes 2 King Cakes.

Note: Once the cake has cooled, randomly insert a plastic baby doll, if desired, before frosting.

Recipe courtesy of Southern Living Magazine, January 1990.

Photograph provided courtesy of A Gourmet Cajun Shop ( for Mardi Gras Party Supplies, Gourmet Cajun and Creole Foods, Gifts and Baskets, Cookware, Music and More.