How To Make A Mardi Gras King Cake

Recipe: Traditional King Cake

There are soft, chewy king cakes in bakeries all across the South when Mardi Gras rolls around. This Louisiana recipe is made with a sweet, flaky dough topped with a buttery icing glaze and green, gold, and purple sugar crystals. When it comes to king cake, our traditional recipe coined by Test Kitchen Professional Pam Lolley reigns supreme. Bake your cake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown, and slightly cool before adding your creamy glaze. Follow along as Editor Hannah Hayes and Pam Lolley show you how to make this incredible Southern classic. Or, you can always order a king cake right to your door.


In the Southern Living Test Kitchen carnival season is like our second Christmas. And that's because of our Test Kitchen professional Pam Lolley and her king cake. Some king cakes are too dry. Others are way too heavy on the cinnamon, but Pam's is like a cloud of Mardi Gras magic. And we're gonna teach you how to make it. So Pam, what are we gonna do first? We're going to take 16 ounces of sour cream and put it in a small pot along with a quarter cup of butter and a half a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. And we're going to stir that together, just until our butter melts. Once that is melted, we're gonna let that cool down to 110 degrees. I'm gonna need a half a cup of very warm water. And then we're gonna add our yeast to it. All right. Just sprinkle it over the top. And then sprinkle your sugar on top of there. And now we're gonna mix that together. And it's gonna stand for about. Five minutes, until it gets nice and foamy. We're gonna test this, make sure that it's not hotter than 110 degrees. We're gonna take this mixture, and you put that in the mixing bowl. Now then, you take your yeast, and scrape that in there with it. All right. Crack your two eggs in there. Thank you Doug. And then turn it on low. Okay. And let's mix that together well. And then we're gonna slowly add two cups of our flour. We're gonna get this mixed in really well, and then we're gonna put in four to four and a half more cups until we've got a nice. Soft dough. It seems like a lot but we want a big king cake, right? Yes. This is gonna make two king cakes. Your friends are gonna be so happy. I'm so happy. When this gets mixed in really well, then we're gonna knead our flour. Flour. Heavily flour a work surface, because now we're gonna knead our dough until it gets soft and elastic. And toward the end, it'll be very, very. Soft. So Pam, normally you put a baby inside the king cake. Yeah. Like a little plastic baby. A little plastic baby, and tradition has it that whoever finds the baby in their piece of king cake has to have the party next year and they have to make the king cake. And you don't put a baby inside yours. I don't. Why is that? Because I'm always afraid of dental work afterwards. So- I think that's legit. [LAUGH] Yeah. Okay, we've gotten our dough nice and soft. And we're gonna put it in our lightly greased bowl. All right. I'm gonna put it down and then flip it, where it's greased on top. We're gonna cover with plastic wrap. Put it in a warm spot where there's no drafts and let that rise until it's doubled [MUSIC] Our dough has risen. So now, we're ready to put our cakes together. First, we're gonna take our half cup of sugar. And then one and a half teaspoons of cinnamon. And stir that together really well. All right. We need to lightly flour our surface. There you go. Spread that around good. Cuz we're gonna lay our dough on that. You can see how it's risen. And it's doubled in bulk. From where we started. It sure has. So now then flour your hands good. Okay. Now give it a punch. Now we're gonna turn it ou t on a lightly floured surface, and we're gonna cut the dough in half, because we're gonna make two cakes. Now then, we're gonna take this one. Mm-hm. And this is, we're gonna roll it out to a rectangle. It's gonna be 12 inches wide. About 22 inches long. What makes this dough different than other types of dough? This dough is not a real dense dough. It's very light. Very flaky. Now then we're gonna take our softened butter and we're gonna use half of that, and spread within an inch, all the way around. And it's important that that butter be good and soft or you'll tear your dough. Sprinkle half of our cinnamon mixture and this is a traditional [INAUDIBLE] cake with the cinnamon sugar. Now that we've got our cinnamon sugar on here we're gonna start at the long side and I find that it's easiest to roll it toward you. We're gonna roll that just as tightly as we can and it does kind of stretch a little as you go and that's okay. And then when you get to the end. [MUSIC] Try and kinda pinch those in. Okay. Edges together. Why do we do this, Pam? So that it will stay together when it bakes, and then you'll put that seam on the bottom and then it won't show. Now then, we're gonna form our ring. And what we do is we just form the circle like this. And then we're gonna pinch these edges together. Now then we're gonna transfer it to our lightly greased pan. And what we'll do is now we cover this with plastic wrap. And it'll rise again for about thirty minutes. Okay our cake has baked to a beautiful golden brown. It's gorgeous. And now I'm gonna put the icing on it. What's in this icing Pam? This is powdered sugar and a little melted butter, lemon juice. And milk. Just work it back and forth, and your cake is still a little bit warm so this icing's gonna melt into it a little bit, and become a little bit glazey. Let's dress it up. And I have found that the sugar crystals work better than the sanding sugar. Want to alternate your patterns, and then just work it all the way around the cake. There we have our king cake. Ready for a party. Let's go. All right. For more recipes and tips, visit [MUSIC]
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