Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Ana Kelly Prop Stylist: Kay Clarke
Active Time
30 Mins
Total Time
3 Hours 15 Mins
Yield
1 (about 12-in.) coffee cake

If you can’t get yourself to Louisiana for Mardi Gras this year, fixing this recipe is the next best thing. In fact, we think it’s even better than ordering a mail-order King Cake. This colorful, iconic treat might seem intimidating, but once you let the yeast dough rise, the good time roll together quickly. If you’re looking for another quick and easy twist on the classic cake, try our King Cake Monkey Bread. This interactive dessert provides fun for the whole family. Instead of hiding a plastic baby inside, we use a pecan half or a dried bean for an all-natural option.

How to Make It

Step 1

Prepare the Cake: Stir together warm water (105°F to 115°F), yeast, and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in a small bowl; set in a warm place until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Step 2

Beat salt, nutmeg, zest, 4 cups of the flour, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add egg yolks, warm milk, melted butter, and yeast mixture; beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

Step 3

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead in up to remaining 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup at a time, until dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Step 4

Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°F) free from drafts until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Step 5

Punch down dough, and place on a lightly floured work surface. (If desired, sprinkle with candied citron; knead until citron is evenly distributed.) Shape dough into a cylinder 30 inches long.

Step 6

Place dough cylinder on a buttered baking sheet; shape into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Press pecan half gently into dough ring from underside of dough so it is completely hidden inside the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.

Step 7

Bake Cake in preheated oven until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet 30 minutes.

Step 8

Prepare the Glaze: Stir together powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water in a small bowl until smooth.

Step 9

Drizzle Cake with Glaze; sprinkle with sanding sugar, alternating colors.