Go Back
+ servings
Close up of a slice of King Cake with plastic baby
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

King Cake

Celebrate Mardi Gras with homemade King Cake. A sweet bread with cinnamon sugar and pecans in the middle. Top it with icing and colored sugar.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Dough Rising1 hour
Total Time2 hours
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16
Calories: 692kcal
Author: Julie Evink


  • 1 packet active dry yeast (.25 ounce)
  • ¼ c. warm water 110-115 degrees F
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 ½ - 4 c. all-purpose flour divided
  • ¼ c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. milk warm 110-115 degrees F
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter softened


  • 1 c. brown sugar packed
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ c. pecans chopped
  • ½ c. unsalted butter (1 stick), melted


  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk depending on consistency
  • ½ tsp clear vanilla


  • Mini plastic baby
  • Colored sugar - purple yellow and green



  • Heat ¼ cup water to 100-110 degrees F. Pour into mixing bowl. Add the packet of yeast and 1 tsp sugar. Stir gently to coat yeast.
  • Let set to proof for 5-10 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Add ¼ cup sugar, butter, milk, eggs, salt and 2 cups flour to yeast mixture in mixing bowl. Beat mixture until smooth.
  • Gradually add more flour until dough forms soft ball, it will be sticky.
  • Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Form dough into ball and place in greased bowl, turn dough over to coat other side. Then cover with plastic wrap and let rise 45 - 60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
  • Punch dough down and turn onto lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a rectangle about 10'' x 20''.


  • In a small bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. Add melted butter to mixture and stir until combined.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over dough leaving ½ inch around the edges. If you are using a small plastic baby to hide in the dough place the baby in the dough now.
  • Prepare baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper.
  • Roll dough beginning on the long side, jelly-roll style. When it is completely rolled up pinch seam to seal.
  • Place dough on baking sheet and form a circle, pinching the edges together tightly.
  • Cover dough ring with plastic wrap and let rise 45-60 minutes or until almost double in size.
  • About 20 minutes before rise is done, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • When dough has raise bake 25-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.


  • When cake is cooled mix together glaze ingredients in small bowl until smooth and desired consistency.
  • Spoon glaze onto cooled cake . Add colored sugar on top to decorate.


Be sure to check the expiration date on your yeast – if it’s expired it may not work. Also, make sure the water is between 100 and 110°F – if it’s too hot it can kill the yeast and your dough won’t rise.
I give a time estimate for how long the dough should rise, but it’s always best to go by how it looks. The temperature of the room can speed up or slow down the rise depending on how warm or cool it is. So, once it’s doubled in size it’s ready.
Be sure to let the cake cool completely before adding the glaze. If the cake is hot, it will absorb the glaze.
Leftover Mardi Gras king cake will keep for a few days at room temperature. Just keep it wrapped in plastic wrap.


Calories: 692kcal | Carbohydrates: 120g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 169mg | Potassium: 203mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 379IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 6mg