Mardi Gras Kings Cake – New Orleans Version with Recipe

IMG_4676King’s Cake is traditionally served starting the Epiphany in January, when the Three Kings are thought to have visited the baby Jesus. They’re served through the Carnival season in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. Different versions of the Kings Cake are made in different countries.

The version of King Cake from Louisiana (and New Orleans), Alabama and Mississippi is usually made in the shape of a ring (like the crown of Jesus). It has icing or sugar on top in three colors; purple, green and gold, representing justice, faith and power. These are the traditional Mardi Gras colors!

IMG_4567There’s usually a filling inside the King Cake… praline, cinnamon, cream cheese or strawberry. A plastic trinket in the shape of a baby is also hidden inside the cake. It represents the baby Jesus.  It symbolizes luck and prosperity for the one who finds it in their slice of cake! That person is considered to be king or queen for the night.  But they also have the responsibility of hosting the next party and providing the next King Cake!

Here’s a recipe for the type of King Cake that’s served in the U.S. This specific recipe has a praline filling…

Recipe for King Cake


For the Cake

1/4 cup Warm Water (110F)
1/4 t. Sugar
1 package rapid rise Yeast
4 T. Butter (56 g.)
1/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 t. Nutmeg
2 Eggs
2 1/2+ c. All-Purpose Flour (1c.=150g)

For the Praline Filling

1 cup Pecans
4 T. Butter (56 g.)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 – 3 t. Bourbon or 1 t. Vanilla Extract

For the Sugar Glaze

1 1/2 cups Confectioners’ Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 2 T. Water

For the Colored Sugar

9 T. Granulated Sugar
Food Coloring – Green, Yellow, Blue and Red


1. Dissolve the yeast in the 1/4 cup of warm water with 1/4 teaspoon of sugar. Let sit for 5+ minutes.

2. Melt the butter and let cool.  Blend in the milk, sugar, salt, and nutmeg with a hand blender.

3. Add in yeast mixture with hand blender.

4. Add in eggs and beat until mixed.

5. Add a cup of flour, mix well.  IMG_4586

6. Using a wide wooden spoon, slowly add in more flour. When it gets too hard to mix with the spoon, switch to adding in flour by hand. Add in enough flour to get a smooth, but almost sticky, consistency (similar to the texture of Play Dough).

7. Knead for about 10 minutes and form the dough into a round shape.

8. Grease bowl with Canola or Vegetable oil and put dough ball into it. Turn it over two times.  Cover with plastic and let rest for 2 hours in a warm place, until doubled.

9. To prepare the Praline Filling

IMG_4541Start with cooking the pecans in a frying pan on medium low for about 10 minutes. Stir and turn often. Do not burn!  They’re done when they have a crunchier, less moist consistency on the inside. When done, chop the pecans into small pieces.

10. Melt the butter and mix well with the chopped pecans, brown sugar and bourbon or vanilla. Set aside.

IMG_453111. To make the Colored Sugar:

Yellow: Place 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small plastic bag. Add 2 – 4 drops of yellow food coloring. Mix well until the sugar is a consistent shade of yellow.

Green: Place 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small plastic bag. Add 7 – 8 drops of green food coloring. Mix well until the sugar is a consistent shade of green.

Purple: Place 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small plastic bag. Add 4 drops of red and 2 drops of blue food coloring. Mix well until the sugar is a consistent shade of purple.

IMG_4599You can slowly mix in more dye to any of the colors to make them darker or more intense.  Set sugar aside.

12. Once the dough has risen, punch it down. Roll it out on a clean floured surface to a rectangular shape that’s about 10" wide by 16" long and about 1/4" thick.

13. Evenly spread the praline filling on top of the dough, leaving about 1" of the edges free.

IMG_455314. Roll the dough up longwise (like you’d roll a jelly roll). Place seam side down on a greased cookie sheet. You can press the seam gently into the dough.  Bring the edges together, forming a circle, tucking one end into the other end. Cover and let sit for an hour.

IMG_455815. To make the Sugar Glaze: Mix the confectioners’ sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of water. If it’s too stiff you can slowly add more water.

16. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake the cake for 35 – 40 minutes until the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch. If it starts to brown before that, you can loosely put aluminum foil over the top in a ring formation (try to leave the center free of foil so the inside can cook properly).

17. When it’s done, place it on a plate and let it cool off a bit.  It should still be warm when you glaze it.


18. To Place the Plastic Baby inside the Cake: Make a 1 1/2 inch cut in the bottom side of the cake. Gently push the plastic baby all the way inside the hole with your finger. Place cake down and proceed to the next step.  IMG_4686

19. To Glaze the Cake and Decorate it with Colored Sugar: While the cake is still warm (but not too hot), drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. You can let it glide down the sides too. Then sprinkle the sugar on top of the cake in the order of green, yellow, purple. Repeat in threes around the cake.

IMG_4581Bon appetit!

Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

Mama Lisa


Note: You can purchase the plastic baby charms for King Cake on here or here or here.

This article was posted on Friday, January 29th, 2016 at 7:58 pm and is filed under Carnival, Countries & Cultures, Desserts, Epiphany, Holidays Around the World, Kings Cake, Kings Day, Mardi Gras, Recipes of the World, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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