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Authentic King Cake For Mardi Gras

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king-cakeIf you’ve ever lived in Mobile, or New Orleans, or Lafayette or any part of the Mississippi Delta for that matter, you know the dates, you know the fun and your craving for and authentic King Cake has come to a full roar! Mardi Gras, that glittery, purple, gold and green crazy train is barrelling towards us. Fat Tuesday falls on February 17 this year, and its only a few weeks away.  There are cures for that craving of Galette Du Rois (King Cake).  The local grocer (unless you live in the area where Mardi Gras is celebrated with supreme Gusto, I don’t recommend this), order from Randazzo’s (an original and in my opinion the best, or Gambino’s (another original and really good varieties) or make it yourself. I recommend making your own, homemade is always soooooo good!

Mind you this lovely takes the better part of a warm afternoon and some patience but so worth it. And this recipe is for an authentic as it gets, King Cake! Its sweet, very sweet, but there’s so much to love about this delicacy, you’ll want to surely TRY THIS AT HOME!

In case you were wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s a little ‘history’ on the king cake from Manny Randazzo

The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. A King Cake is an oval-shaped bakery delicacy, crossed between a coffee cake and a French pastry that is as rich in history as it is in flavor. It’s decorated in royal colors of PURPLE which signifies “Justice,” GREEN for “Faith,” and GOLD for “Power.” These colors were chosen to resemble a jeweled crown honoring the Wise Men who visited the Christ Child on Epiphany. In the past such things as coins, beans, pecans, or peas were also hidden in each King Cake.

Today, a tiny plastic baby is the common prize. At a party, the King Cake is sliced and served. Each person looks to see if their piece contains the “baby.” If so, then that person is named “King” for a day and bound by custom to host the next party and provide the King Cake.

Mardi Gras Day has a moveable date and may occur on any Tuesday from February 3rd to March 9th. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday, and always falls 46 days before Easter.


Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Authentic Mardi Gras King Cake

Traditional New Orleans Style King Cake. Twisted but can be braided.
Prep Time1 hr 30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Party Food
Cuisine: Southern
Author: Debbie


For dough

  • 1/4 cup warm water 105 to 115 degrees
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm milk 105 to 115 degrees
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • plastic baby charm

For cinnamon filling

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

For icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  • Colored Sprinkling Sugar green, gold and purple


  • Place warm water in large warm bowl.
  • Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved.
  • Add warm milk, softened butter, sugar, nutmeg and salt; then add 1 cup flour; blend well.
  • Stir in eggs and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
  • Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease surface of dough.
  • Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, (about 1 hour).
  • Punch down dough.
  • Remove to lightly floured surface; roll to 30- by 9-inch rectangle.
  • Brush with melted butter; then sprinkle to within half-inch of edges with brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Beginning at long end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll; pinch seam to seal.
  • With sharp knife, cut roll in half lengthwise; carefully turn halves so that the cut sides face up. Twist halves together, keeping cut sides up so filling is visible.
  • As you are twisting, place charm somewhere in the center of the dough.
  • Transfer dough to greased baking sheet.
  • Shape into ring; pinch ends together to seal.
  • Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (about 20 to 40 minutes)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until done.
  • Remove from baking sheet and let cool on wire rack.
  • Mix all icing ingredients together until smooth;
  • Divide into three small bowls and tint purple, green and gold.
  • Drizzle over the top of the cake, add colored sprinkling sugar (coarse grain sugar) as desired.


Adapted from a 1980's recipe featured in the Times-Picayune Newspaper of New Orleans.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to warn your guests that there is a tiny charm baked into your cake. You don’t want anyone choking ! And watch small children carefully. You might even want to bake a kids king cake without the charm!

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  1. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says

    5 stars
    I was lucky enough to be visiting a good friend of mine in New Orleans one year and she made a king cake and I was over the moon. I wasn’t lucky enough to get the baby and maybe that’s why I’ve never made one. I loved this post!

  2. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. says

    So fun and festive! Makes me want to throw a Mardi Gras party! … Happy to feature you at our party this week. Thanks so much for sharing!