King Cake

Total Time:
4 hr
3 hr 30 min
30 min

10-12 servings

  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 to 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped candied citron
  • 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby
  • Glaze:
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Purple, green and gold sugar crystals

Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes. Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the citron and knead until the citron is evenly distributed. Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 30 inches long. Place the cylinder on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors. Cut into the cake and hope you do not get the baby.

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3.8 26
We are basically looking at a sweet dough recipe. Looking at the complaints of it being too dry I added 1/3 c of sour cream to the wet and it turned out very moist, maybe a little more dense than what I have had store bought, but tasty. I also divided into 3 strips, filled each with raspberry jam and braided them. I forwent the citron and the traditional icing which I am not a fan of and used a cream cheese icing. My first attempt at one since moving to NOLA so I have little to compare it to. I guess I have to take it to work to see if it passes muster with the locals. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was the worst King Cake dough I have ever had. I have made many king cakes, but I am still looking for the perfect dough, this sure wasn't it. Ended up adding about another cup of milk as the dough was so dry while mixing it, never came together like a good yeast dough should. Had to work it so hard to roll it out too, it shouldn't be that hard. I filled it with cream cheese and jam, which was about the only thing that gave it any moisture at all. Plus... why on earth would one preheat the oven at the beginning of this recipe, you don;t put it in the over for about 3 hours. I knew that so I didn't, but I have to feel bad for the beginner that heats up the kitchen for so long. BAD, BAD, BAD. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This recipe is PERFECT! I had so much fun baking this and the King Cakes turn out incredible every time. I've been baking them using this recipe for 3 or 4 years or so now and they're always amazing. I love to add a filling just because its more fun that way and being a south Louisiana native, I've been spoiled by Gambino's. These put my local bakery's king cakes to shame. I've read reviews of these being dry and I've never had that problem and belive me, I've eaten these all my life and I'm King Cake picky. I have only made it once without a filling and it wasn't dry, but not as moist as they are when I do. Great recipe, thanks so much! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Not even close to a King Cake dry and what happened to the filling. Bummer!!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Thank You Emeril for this recipe!!! From one who spends $75+ ordering king cakes from Haydel's and Gambino's Bakery's (in NOLA each year I just got tired of spending the $$$. I found this recipe the day of the LSU championship and made it with out the citron and added lemon to the icing, I added a danish cream cheese/ ricotta filing to the inside and "BAMM" i got my king cake quicker and a whole lot cheaper than ordering it straight from the king cake masters. To everyone says this cake is dry, if you don't add a filling then it will be a little bit, that is the essence of a king cake. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Extremely dry!!! What a disappointment after taking such care in creating it! Beautiful to look at...but the taste~~a bummer:( As pretty as it will probably be tossed. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I made this cake and wasn't a fan. The people I served it to weren't fans either. Somebody brought another King cake and it was eaten much faster than mine. It was very dry and didn't have much flavor. Sorry, but there are better recipes. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is a great recipe if you want the real good ol' Louisiana King Cake. I made it almost exactly like the recipe and it was nearly perfect. The only thing I did different was that I separated the dough into 3 pieces and braided it, representing the 3 Kings. My only complaint is that it is very dense, which is why I gave it 4 stars, not 5. Perhaps this is just how the recipe is or maybe I made mistakes. It is very moist, but quite dense. It looked gorgeous and tasted lovely. item not reviewed by moderator and published
We recently moved and I didn't have access to our family's traditional recipe for King Cake so I used this one. My Grammy told me that there are as many king cake recipes as there are bakers. It was not exactly the same as the one our family has used in the past, but it was very good and I would recommend it to anyone. I made it according to the recipe and did not change a thing. It was delish and even my Grammy liked it. item not reviewed by moderator and published
THE PROCESS IS LOOONG! but the end result is tasty.. i used this recipie for our super bowl party last weekend and it was well received by ALL ! (i didn't use the citron) item not reviewed by moderator and published

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King Cake

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen