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King Cake 2

One round cake, about 9-10" across
Prep info
2 hrs soften butter & cream cheese + 45 min prep + 10 min knead + 90 min rise & 10 min make filling + 30 min roll & fill + 45 min rise + 35 min bake + 3 hrs cool & prep frosting & icing + 15 min decorate
Prep time
9 hours, 30 minutes
Cook time
35 minutes
Time required
10 hours, 5 minutes
Oven preheat
Desserts - Cakes


  • Cake:
  • 1/4 c water (60mL; 100F-110F/37C-43C, divided)
  • 7 g active dry yeast
  • 50 g Sugar (Granulated) (divided)
  • 285 g bread flour (unsifted, 1.75c)
  • 1/2 t grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t Salt (Table)
  • 1/2 t lemon zest
  • 1/4 c milk (6mL; warm, but not more than 110F/43C)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 57 g butter (4T; softened)
  • 62 g bread flour (1/2c; to be added as needed, 1T at a time)
  • canola oil (for bowl and for baking pan)
  • Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 113 g cream cheese (softened)
  • 40 g Sugar (Icing)
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/8 t Salt (Table)
  • Colored Sugars:
  • green paste food coloring
  • purple paste food coloring
  • yellow paste food coloring
  • 3/8 c Sugar (Granulated) (divided: 2T for each color, as needed)
  • Icing:
  • 100 g Sugar (Icing)
  • 2 T lemon juice (30mL; as needed)
  • 3 T water (45mL; as needed)


1. Set out butter and cream cheese to soften.

For the cake:

2. Pour 40mL of the warm water into a small shallow bowl, and sprinkle yeast and 2t sugar into it.  Allow the yeast and sugar to sit for 3 minutes, then mix thoroughly.  Set bowl in a warm place for 10 minutes or until yeast bubbles up and mixture almost doubles in volume.

3. Combine 285g of flour, remaining sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt; sift into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in lemon zest.  Separate center of mixture to form a well and pour in yeast mixture and milk.  Add egg yolks and slowly combine dry ingredients into the yeast/milk mixture.

4. Once combined, beat in 57g butter, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat 2 minutes or until dough can be formed into a medium soft ball.  If necessary, add the remainder of the water to bring the dough to a workable state.  Don't add it if you don't need it!  How much flour and water you need will vary from making to making, so go by the feel of the dough.

5. Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and knead like bread.  During this kneading, add up to 1/2 cup more flour, as necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time.  When dough is no longer sticky, knead 8-10 minutes more until shiny and elastic.

6. Coat the inside of a large bowl evenly with canola oil.  Place dough in the bowl and rotate until the entire surface is buttered.  Cover the bowl with cling film and place in a draft free spot for about 1.5 hours, or until the dough doubles in volume.

7. Before you leave the kitchen: Coat a large baking sheet with canola oil and set aside.  Also, make the filling if you want cream cheese filling.

For the filling:

8. Place all ingredients in a bowl; beat with an electric hand mixer until thoroughly combined.  Set aside.

After the first rise:

9. Using your fist, punch down the dough with a heavy blow.

10. Roll out the dough into a 10"x30" sheet.  Spread filling evenly, leaving a 2" margin on all sides.  Roll up jellyroll style, making a long, skinny tube.  Shape tube into an oval on the buttered baking sheet.  Pinch the ends together to complete the oval.  

11. Cover dough with cling film and set it in a draft free spot for 45 minutes until the cake doubles in volume.

After the second rise:

12. Preheat oven to 375F.

13. Bake cake on middle rack of oven for 25-35 minutes until golden brown.

14. Place cake on wire rack to cool.  If desired, at this time you can hide the plastic baby in the cake.

Colored sugars:

15. Place 2T cup of sugar in a plastic zip-top bag.  Place a dot of green food coloring paste into the sugar.  Seal the bag, and grope the sugar through the bag until the color distributes evenly.  Adjust color as desired.

16. Repeat process for other two colors; set aside.


17. Combine sugar and lemon juice; add water as needed, one tablespoon at a time, until smooth.

To Decorate:

18. Spread icing over top of cake.  Immediately sprinkle the colored sugars in individual rows, each about 2" wide.  Cake is served in 2"-3" pieces.


SJ Note Mardi Gras 2011: This is better than King Cake 1, though I still needed to add quite a bit of flour to make the dough workable.  I kept forgetting to sprinkle the top of the cake with cinnamon, so I finally added it to the dough at the beginning, and that worked well.  I kept forgetting to get lemons in, so lemon extract works in place of lemon zest.

SJ Note Mardi Gras 2013: This came together brilliantly.  I didn't need to add any extra flour to the dough - and wonder if that had something to do with a bit of the water bubbling out from the yeast mixture, so I've amended the recipe accordingly.  The recipe called for sprinkling cinnamon on top of the cake before the second rise, which I never remembered before, but finally did this time.  Don't do it!  It never baked into the dough, it just sat on top, and then it repelled the icing.  I've amended the recipe to put the cinnamon directly into the dough now. Next time I want to try jam filling instead of cream cheese.


  • This version (Sat, 23 Jan 2021 17:12)
  • King Cake 2 (Fri, 12 Jan 2018 12:33)