A traditional Mardi Gras king cake is so easy to make at home. A tender, soft cake is reminiscent of homemade cinnamon rolls and topped with sprinkles in green, gold and purple. Make this cake the hit of your next Mardis Gras celebration!
My husband’s former manager used to throw an epic Mardi Gras day party. She had at least 50-100 people in attendance and even hired a caterer to assist with some of the food. They always had a large vat of gumbo and jambalaya that would get eaten very quickly.
Tucked away, almost out of sight, was a traditional king cake. I’m not sure if it was the fast flowing hurricanes (drinks) or other adult beverages, but the king cake would hardly get eaten. We always had to leave early because it was a 2 hour drive from our house, so maybe the guests did enjoy the cake after we had left for home.
I never stopped thinking about that king cake and how I wanted to try some. I’ve been meaning to create my own but never found the right kind of sprinkles to use. Lame excuse, I know. When a specialty grocery store opened up in our area this summer, I quickly snagged the gold, green and purple sprinkles on the shelf so I could finally make a king cake. Addie was curious about this cake since it required all these pretty sprinkles.
One day, while my husband was swimming, I told Addie that we could try to bake a king cake to surprise her daddy. I told her that she could help me add the sprinkles to the cake once it was done baking. She ran to get her step stool and patiently watched and helped as I made the dough. She was fully in charge of making the filling and was proud of her work after she was done mixing.
After the cake was baked, Addie went to town on the sprinkles. Miraculously, they didn’t get all over the counter, and she did a really good job decorating. We each had a slice after dinner that night, and Addie inhaled her piece almost as quickly as she normally eats ice cream.
The king cake was soft, buttery, and very similar to a homemade cinnamon roll in texture. I added raisins to my king cake for a contrasting texture. We all enjoyed this festive cake and hope to host our own Mardi Gras party at some point in the future. Happy Mardi Gras to all!
Mardi Gras king cake
- 1/2 cup milk of choice
- 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 package (2 and 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup warm water about 110 degrees F
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more as needed
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 Tablespoon water
- 1/2 Tablespoon milk of choice
- In a measuring cup, heat the milk until it is very hot. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Set aside and let the mixture cool.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer), sprinkle the yeast on the bottom of the bowl and add the warm water and 1 Tablespoon of the sugar. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes or until it gets frothy.
- Add in the cooled milk mixture and the egg and mix on medium speed. Then add the remaining sugar, salt and nutmeg. Slowly add the flour in, about a cup at a time, until the dough starts to come together. It should be soft and pliable but not too sticky. If needed, add more flour about 1/4 cup at a time.
- Grease a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover and allow to double in size, about 1-2 hours. I took a shortcut and heated my dough in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then I covered and allowed it to rise - it cut the rise time in half.
- While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and raisins. Add the melted butter and combine until the mixture resembles wet crumbs.
- Punch down the dough and roll to a large rectangle (about 10"x16"). Sprinkle the filling on top. Starting with the long end, roll the dough up like a jelly roll, making sure to make the roll very tight. Place the roll, seam side down, on a greased or lined baking pan. Bring the ends together to form a circle. Pinch the ends together well so they do not separate during baking.
- Using kitchen shears, make cuts in the dough about 1/3 of the way through the dough at 1-inch intervals. Cover the dough and allow to rise another 45 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool slightly.
- Prepare the frosting by mixing the powdered sugar, water and milk in a small bowl. While the cake is still warm, drizzle the frosting on top and immediately top with colored sprinkles if desired.