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Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

I have always loved Mardi Gras King Cake but had never made one from scratch. I’ve always used a box mix that was very good. I decided to tackle this one and I’m glad I did. This is an old fashioned yeast cake, another first for me. It is filled with cinnamon sugar and tastes like a coffee cake, it’s delicious. You can change up your filling to fit your tastes. Some use cream cheese, or brown sugar, or even add nuts. I will likely experiment with this as our family really enjoyed it. 

My understanding of Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, is that folks want to celebrate and indulge before Lent where they will be fasting and limiting their diet. When I was researching and sharing this with my family, we all decided we liked the idea of a holiday that celebrates indulgence. This Mardi Gras King Cake is a perfect way to kick off the celebration.

Making the cake takes a little time, and is very similar to making bread. My kids thought it was a loaf of bread when they came home as I had not yet put the frosting and sugars on top. You will start by making an enriched dough. It is a bit stickier than many bread dough recipes. Be sure the follow the directions with regards to temperature of your ingredients to keep your yeast happy. Once the dough has risen, you will roll it out into a large rectangle, cover it with filling, then roll it up jelly roll style and wrap into a ring. It will rise again before baking. Finishing up is very easy, just mix together the frosting, spread on top, then sprinkle with the colored sugars.

Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

Yield: 2 cakes
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Delicious yeast cake reminiscent of cinnamon coffee cake.



  • 16-oz. container sour cream
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 1/2 tsp. (or 2 envelopes) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided


  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

Vanilla Frosting

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tbsp. milk
  • Purple, green, and yellow decorating sugars


  1. Combine sour cream, butter, salt, and 1/3 cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium-low. Cook, stirring, until butter melts, 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to 100°F to 110°F, about 15 minutes. I recommend not moving to the next step until this mixture is 120°F
  2. Stir together yeast, water, and remaining 1 tbsp. sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Combine sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, 2 eggs, and 2 cups of the flour in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until smooth, 1 minute. Reduce speed to low; gradually add 4 cups of the flour, beating until dough forms into a ball. This may take about 5 minutes.
  4. Place in a well-greased bowl; turn to grease top. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85°F) until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Ensure butter is soft and spreadable.
  6. When the dough is ready, gently punch the dough down and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 portion into a 28- x 10 inch rectangle.. Spread half of the butter and half of the cinnamon sugar mixture on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border.
  7. Starting with the long side, roll up rectangle in a jelly-roll fashion. Place, seam side down, on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form a ring. Moisten ends with water; pinch together to seal. Repeat with second portion and remaining filling. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85°F) until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake the cakes in preheated oven until deep golden brown and done, about 15 minutes. Cool cakes completely on pans set on wire racks, about 1 1⁄2 hours.
  9. Stir together powdered sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir in 3 tablespoons milk. Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired thickness. Pour or spread evenly over the cakes. Sprinkle with sparkling sugars, alternating colors to form bands


Adapted from Southern Living

Alternative Filling - Praline Cream Cheese Filling

  • 2 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans, divided

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 936Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 175mgCarbohydrates: 178gFiber: 6gSugar: 22gProtein: 23g

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Mardi Gras King Cake
Mardi Gras King Cake

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