Mardi Gras King Cake

Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday and it’s time to make Mardi Gras King Cake. Don’t forget to insert the tiny plastic baby inside.

  • Dough
  • 1 Tablespoon Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Cup Warm Water (NOT Hot)
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Milk (Warmed)
  • 4 3/4 Cup Unbleached Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (Softened)
  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • Cream Cheese Filling
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese (Softened)
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Unbleached Flour
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • Makes 1 1/2 Cups
  • 1 Tiny Plastic Baby
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 Tablespoons Milk
  • Icing
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Butter (Softened)
  • 1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
  • Colored Sugar (Yellow, Green & Purple)
  1. In small-size bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Make sure that water is NOT hot or it will kill the yeast. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 cup warm milk. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. To make dough: In large-size bowl blend flour, kosher salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon zest. In separate medium-size bowl, cream butter and remaining sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks.
  3. Gradually add butter mixture to flour mixture. Combine until coarse. Add yeast mixture. Combine until dough forms into ball. If dough is too sticky then add a bit more flour. If dough is too dry add a bit more water. Place dough into large-size oiled ceramic bowl and cover with dishtowel. Let sit, in warm & dry place, at least 2 hours until dough had doubled in size.
  4. To assemble dough: Butter large-size baking sheet. When dough is ready, punch down a couple times to flatten a bit. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll out one piece on floured work surface to about 12 inches by 4 inches. You will want thickness to be about 3/8 inch. Spread 1/3 of cream cheese filling over dough, leaving 1 inch on all sides. Roll up long side of dough, forming a long cylinder. Pinch edges to seal. Repeat with other two pieces of dough.
  5. Braid all three cylinders together. Wrap braid into a circle (will look like a king’s crown). Where ends come together, insert plastic baby and pinch ends together to give a good seal. Smooth dough to hide that seam. Transfer ring to prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 45 minutes until dough had doubled in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Beat egg white with milk. When dough has risen, brush with egg white mixture. Place in oven and bake 35 minutes until golden. Remember that each oven heats differently. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  8. Spread lemon icing over top of cake. Immediately sprinkle with colored sugars. Let topping set before serving.
  9. Cream Cheese Filling: In medium-size bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg yolk, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix until smooth.
  10. Icing: In medium-size bowl cream sugar and butter until smooth. Mix in lemon juice.
  11. Makes 1 Mardi Gras King Cake
  12. Serves 8
  13. "Work With What You Got!"
  14. © Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen


Victoria has been cooking and writing recipes since she was a a young girl. Originally from Nebraska, her appreciation for culinary technique took off when she moved to Lyon, France. Victoria is published in Hearst Newspapers, Greenwich Free Press, New Canaanite, and more.

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