Food: Celebrate Mardi Gras with a King Cake (recipe) |

Food: Celebrate Mardi Gras with a King Cake (recipe)

Arica Davis
Tribune Food Columnist
Make a King Cake this weekend to celebrate Mardi Gras week.
Courtesy / Arica Davis |

King Cakes are traditionally made for Mardi Gras celebrations, and growing up in Louisiana I ate and loved so many of these tasty treats. With Fat Tuesday coming up I felt it fitting to share this close-to-my-heart recipe with you.

My traditional recipe has a cinnamon-butter filling, but some other fillings you can find in Louisiana are Bavarian cream (so good!), strawberry, blueberry and cream cheese.

Maybe the most unique part of the King Cake is the traditional plastic baby hidden inside (or underneath); the person who gets the piece of cake with the baby will be rewarded with good luck and is responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party.

I braided the King Cake [pictured here], but instructions below are for a traditional ring. If you’d like directions on braiding, please visit my website,

Happy Mardi Gras!!


Dough ingredients

1⁄3 cup warm water

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

3/4 cup sugar, separated

1/2 cup milk

2 tbs. butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg

3 cups flour (plus more if needed)

Filling ingredients

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tbs. butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tbs. ground cinnamon

Glaze and topping ingredients

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 to 3 tbs. milk

Green, purple and yellow sprinkles or sugars


Dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Warm milk, remove from heat and stir in 2 tbs. butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Once yeast has bubbled, pour the mixture into a large bowl along with the cooled milk and butter. Whisk in the eggs, remaining sugar and salt.

Using a stand mixer or wooden spoon stir the flour into the mixture one cup at a time. Once the dough starts to form a ball, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour. Place it back into the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour or until dough is doubled.

For the filling: Combine the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and melted butter, mix until crumbly.

Punch down dough and roll into 10-by-20-inch rectangle. Spread cinnamon butter mixture evenly on the rectangle, leaving a one-inch border. Starting with the long end closest to you, roll the dough up toward the top like a traditional jelly roll, seam side down. Curl the dough into a ring and overlap the ends slightly, pinching to seal. Transfer the round to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and let it rise for 40 minutes to an hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Combine the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Whisk until smooth. Spread over cake and sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating.

Chef Arica Davis is owner/operator of Yummy Fixins, Personal Chef Services and Pasta Parties. Visit or call 530-539-4504 to book your next dinner party.

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