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Mardi Gras King Cake

  • Author: Joy the Baker
  • Prep Time: 150
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 180


Buttery soft cinnamon swirl King Cake with lemon glaze and all the sprinkles.



For the Dough

  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed to about 110 degrees F
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, beaten for egg wash

For the Filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • big pinch of salt

For the Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • purple, green, and yellow sprinkles
  • a tiny plastic baby, to sneak in the cake after it’s baked


  1. To make the cake, heat milk in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in the granulated sugar, yeast, and a heaping tablespoon of the flour, mixing until both the sugar and the yeast have dissolved. Let sit for 5 minutes all allow the yeast to foam.
  2. Once bubbles have developed on the surface of the milk and it begins to foam, whisk in the butter, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  3. Place the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the wet mixture all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine with a spatula until combined. Mix the dough with the mixer and the dough hook for 5 minutes. The dough will be rather wet and sticky. That’s ok! The dough will form a smooth but loose ball. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that no flour pockets remain
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside in a draft-free place to let it proof, or rise, for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume.
  5. While the dough rises, combine the filling by mixing all ingredients into a smooth paste.
  6. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. One at a time, roll each piece of dough to about 24-26 inches long. The width will be about 6 to 8 inches.
  7. Spread with half of the buttery filling mixture and roll (cinnamon roll style) starting from the long end of the dough.
  8. Repeat with the second piece of dough. You’ll have two rolled ropes of dough. Press and roll each dough out another 2-inches or so to even the thickness of the strands.
  9. Line the ropes of dough up and twist together starting from the center. Bring the edges around and seal into a circle.
  10. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the circular cake on the baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes while the oven preheats.
  11. Brush cake lightly wish egg wash. Place in the oven for 30-37 minutes to bake until bubbling and golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before glazing.
  13. In a medium bowl whisk together powdered sugar, milk, lemon, and vanilla extract. The glaze should be thick but still pourable.
  14. Spread glaze over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with purple yellow and green sprinkles. Lift a corner of the cake and tuck the baby up inside for someone to find! Serve in big wedges with hot coffee. Happy Mardi Gras!


  • Serving Size: 10