New Orleans King Cake

In the season leading up to Lent, there is a tradition in many areas called King Cake. The French call it “Galette des Rois” and they usually just have it around Epiphany, in January. In New Orleans, King Cake is served in some places all year, because of the strong tourist connection to all things Mardi Gras, I think. This recipe is completley different from the French one, except for the fact that both are a sort of filled pastry concoction. It is really delicious, so you don’t have to wait for the dead of winter to make it, but it’s a fun treat to have in February when things are dreary. The recipe I use is adapted from a New Orleans visitor site.

** This is a rising yeast dough, so it takes a few hours in total to make.

New Orleans King Cake


2/3 cup / 180 mL milk

5 tbsp /75 g sugar

1-1/2 g / 8 g instant yeast (one package)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2-3/4 cups /690 g flour

1 tsp / 5 g salt

1/2 cup / 125 g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes; at room temperature

2 tsp / 10 mL vegetable oil


8 oz / 250 g cream cheese

1 large egg yolk

2 tbsp / 10 g sugar

1 tsp / 5 mL vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup / 60 g sugar PLUS 2 tsp / 10 g cinnamon for cinnamon sugar


1 cup icing sugar

1/4 cup / 125 mL milk

1/2 tsp / 2 mL vanilla extract

coloured sugar for decoration


Assemble the dough:

  • Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl; add milk and mix at low speed until dough starts to come together. As dough continues to come together, add eggs one at a time. use spatula to clean the sides of the bowl before continuing.
  • Add butter gradually and mix at medium until dough becomes smooth. Add oil and mix till just blended.
  • Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Keep at room temperature; let it double in size. (My dough took almost 3 hours for the first rise.)
  • When doubled, punch dough down and then re-wrap and allow to rise again. ( It took about 1 hour for this rise.)

Prepare filling: Combine all ingredients (except cinnamon sugar) and mix till smooth. (Filling can be put in a piping bag if you have one.)

Assemble the cake:

  • Knead dough on a floured surface till it forms a smooth ball.
  • Roll dough out to a rectangle about 1/4 inch / 0.5 cm thick.
  • Cut the rectangle lengthwise.
  • Spoon or pipe filling on bottom third of each piece. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over each piece evenly.
  • Roll each piece into a long log and twist the 2 logs together to form a braid.
  • Shape the braid into a large ring, sealing the ends together well.
  • Place cake on a baking sheet with a silicone sheet.
  • Proof cake to double in size (my cake took 45 minutes).
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350F / 175C for aproximately 30 minutes, then cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake a further 10 minutes. Crust should be crispy, and the inside (centre) firm.
  • Remove cake (carefully!) from baking sheet and allow cake to cool on a wire rack.
  • Once cool, make glaze and cover cake. Dust with coloured sugar for the Mardi Gras look!

TIP: This is big enough to share! If you have leftovers a few days later, warm slices for a couple of minutes at 350F /175C in a toaster oven.

%d bloggers like this: