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Best Dang King Cake

King Cake is traditionally made during the span of two liturgical seasons, Christmastime and Ordinary time. Although some will just make it for the feast of the Epiphany (Christmastime), others will make it for Mardi Gras (Ordinary Time). The Epiphany of the Lord is a special day to serve this because it is the day that we celebrate the three Kings, or Magi, finding the Christ child by following the star. The custom goes that the host who is providing the cake will hide a small baby Jesus inside and whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby will have to host the Epiphany party next year. Some do it where the receiver of the baby will have to host the upcoming Mardi Gras party. I've heard it both ways! Whatever feast day you are hosting on, just let your guests know that if they get the baby, they have to host next year's festivities.

If you are in need of a beautiful fève nativity with a baby Jesus to put in your cake I have this one. It is bake and wash safe, just don't swallow it! Line the rest of the nativity around your cake like this. Note: This is not the King Cake but wanted to show you to help you visualize the arrangement.

“The name “king cake” comes from the Biblical story of the three kings who bring gifts to Baby Jesus. A blend of coffee cake and cinnamon roll, king cake is usually iced in yellow, green and purple – the colors of Mardi Gras — and is frequently packed with fruit fillings and decadent cream cheeses. Hidden within these season sweets also lie a special surprise: a plastic king cake baby to continue the fun.”

Growing up in the South, especially so close to Louisiana, this was a very common thing for us to make or buy during this season. I was initially intimidated to make this myself, but after some practice it has really become something that I look forward to. Get ready to get lots of compliments on this, last year I made two and was barely able to save myself a piece. Not trying to pat myself on the back, but could you help me push my arm back a little further? 😉😂

Joking aside, it's very good and goes well with a nice warm cup of coffee. Put your apron on, let's bake.

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Bake Time: 22-25 minutes

Rise Time: 3 hours

Yields: 16-18 servings per cake

Note: This recipe makes TWO King Cakes, I usually make two so that I can keep one for my family, and give one away. Perfect to put in the lounge at work, drop off at a friend's house, or bring to a party.

Dough Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 package rapid rise yeast

  • 1/2 cup water (100-110 degrees)

  • 1/4 cup salted butter

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 tbsps vanilla extract

  • 1 cup milk

Cinnamon Filling Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 2 tsps cinnamon

  • 4 tbsps butter, melted

  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Icing Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 4 tbsps milk

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1 tbsp butter, melted


  • Gold, purple, and green sprinkles

  • Plastic or porcelain baby Jesus


In a glass bowl combine 2/3 cup warm water (100-110 degrees), 1 packet of yeast, and 1 tbsp sugar then set aside for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is foamy. When the yeast mixture is foamy like this, pour it into the bowl of your stand mixer.

In a separate bowl, heat 1/4 cup melted butter and 1 cup milk in the microwave. Check the temperature with a food thermometer to make sure it is between 100-110 degrees. Add 1 tsp salt to the mixture and pour these ingredients into the bowl of the stand mixer with the yeast.

Add in 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tbsps vanilla extract, and the 5 1/2 cups flour. Knead with the dough hook on medium speed. Tip: Add the flour in one cup at a time to give the ingredients time to thoroughly combine.

Knead the dough for 5-6 minutes on medium speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead by hand on a lightly floured surface until the dough forms a smooth and round ball.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl then slide the dough around so that it too gets a light coat of oil. Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 2 hours until it has doubled in size.

While that is rising we can make the cinnamon filling. In a clean bowl combine 1 cup brown sugar, 2 tsps cinnamon, 4 tbsps melted butter, and 1 tsp nutmeg.

Thoroughly stir to combine and remember that this mixture will be cut in half since we are filling two king cakes.

Two hours have passed and we have this delicious smelling cinnamon filling and a risen bowl of dough. Let the assembling begin!

Line two baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper and set aside. Don't preheat the oven just yet, we have one more rise to get through.

Punch the dough down and cut it in half, you should have two smaller balls of dough now. Take one and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10 inches x 18 inches.

Use a butter knife or pastry cutter to cut that in half lengthwise so that you have two long, slender rectangles. Spread half of the cinnamon filling over both slender rectangles. Roll each one up into two long logs.

Twist the two logs together into a rope and form to create a circular shape. Pinch the ends of the dough together to close the circle and place on the lined baking sheet.

Do the same thing with the other ball of dough. Cover both king cakes with plastic wrap or a tea towel, and let it rise for another 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 25 minutes or until the cake has an internal temperature of 190 degrees. Let the cake completely cool before frosting.

Look at that golden brown! And oh oh oh it smells so good!

While the cake is cooling we can make the frosting. In a glass bowl combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 4 tbsps milk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tbsp melted butter. Whisk to combine so that it is smooth and thick but pourable.

When it has cooled place baby Jesus into the cake from the bottom and get your gold, green, and purple sprinkles ready!

Begin by pouring half of the icing mixture over the top of the king cake. I used a large spoon to do this and again a friendly reminder to only use half on one cake and half on the other.

Try to quickly do the sprinkles, or work in parts, so that they will stick to the icing.

I alternated colors but you can decorate however your little heart desires.

Would you look at this! OoOh La La!

Want more activities for Shrove Tuesday? Click here!

We also make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, you can find my family recipe here!

Did you make this recipe? If so I would love to see it, drop a picture in the comment or send it to me on social media, Facebook @HisGirlSunday or Instagram @steffani_hisgirlsunday.


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