The Fresh Loaf

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King Cake Recipe?

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

King Cake Recipe?

Mardi Gras is months away, but no time like the present!

I need an authentic recipe for King Cake, as they're made throughout Southern Louisiana (Cajun Country to New Orleans).

The ones I remember (and loved) have a dough that's a lot like cinnamon roll dough, are somehow filled with thickened fruit sauces like lemon and raspberry (and also cream cheese), and topped with colored granulated sugars (purple, yellow, and green) and simple white (confectioners sugar) frosting. The dough's were braided, like this picture, but I distinctly remember those braids being filled (either the braids themselves or in-between) with fruit sauce (and/or cream cheese).

I've seen them baked and deep fried (like giant donuts). I'm almost certain I'm looking for the baked variety.

I've come across a lot of recipes (both here (Floyd posted one that's close to what I'm looking for) and elsewhere), but can't seem to find anything like the one's I described above. Filled and braided is essentially what I'm looking for.

Most recipes seem to produce giant, oval-shaped, frosted cinnamon rolls that are not filled. 

Does anyone have a recipe for the authentic filled version? Or at least like one I describe above, like these:


dwcoleman's picture

I made this awhile back, it was ok..


Recipes - Bread - Haydels King Cake

For the dough:


cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt


½ cup all purpose shortening


4 cups all purpose flour


2 large eggs


1 cup milk (room temperature)


2 small packs active dry yeast


¼ teaspoon lemon flavor


¼ teaspoon orange flavor


¼ teaspoon vanilla flavor


¼ teaspoon butter flavor


½ cup canola oil


½ cup cinnamon sugar


For the colored sugar:


3 cups granulated sugar


1 teaspoon purple food coloring


1 teaspoon yellow food coloring


1 teaspoon green food coloring




1. In a mixer at first speed, combine sugar, salt and shortening until well creamed. Add eggs and continue to cream.


2. Dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the flavors. Once dissolved, add to creamed mixture and continue to mix.Add flour and mix until dough tightens. Remove from mixer and knead into a ball.


3. Sprinkle some of the flour on top and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest for 1.5 hours. While the dough is resting, mix your colored sugars.


4. Take one cup of sugar and your yellow food coloring. Mix by hand with a wire whisk in a metal bowl until the sugar turns yellow. Pour your yellow sugar into a separate bowl and put it off to the side. Repeat this process for the green, and then the purple.


5. When the dough has rested, roll out into an oblong piece. Brush on canola oil covering the entire piece. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar liberally over the whole piece.


6. Once the dough is covered with the cinnamon sugar and oil, fold it in half lengthwise. Cut into three strips and braid the dough.


7. Gently roll the dough by starting at one end and working all the way down to the other end. This will make the dough a nice long piece that can then be shaped into a circle.


8. Once shaped, place on a baking pan covered with a piece of parchment paper. Allow the dough to rest again until it doubles in size.


9. Take a spoon and alternate sprinkling the three colored sugars on top of your circular piece of dough.


10. Bake at 370 F for 12-15 minutes until the dough is golden brown

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

That's one of the big cinnamon roll ones, but thank you.

The one I'm looking for has braids that are themselves filled with fruit sauce, cream cheese, pastry cream, not just cinnamon roll braids, which is the kind Haydel's makes (and seems like just about every other online vendor).

I just found one with an interesting technique (and it might the be the technique I'm looking for):

  • Roll out a 8 x 36" rectangular piece of dough, spread it with thickened raspberry puree, then roll it up like a jelly roll and seal.
  • Repeat with another piece of dough, spread with lemon curd this time and seal.
  • Repeat with a third piece of dough, sweetened cream cheese.
  • Repeat with a fourth piece of dough, vanilla pastry cream.
  • Then braid all four "jelly rolls" together, shape into oval, proof, bake, and frost.

This might just be how the one's I remembered were made.

linder's picture

Does this work?

I have never tried it but it sounded like what you are looking for.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I call those the lazy man's King Cake. Or the Joker's cake? 

The authentic ones are braided and filled.

I like the dough in this recipe, though, so might try it was a braid.

RiverWalker's picture

well I haven't the foggiest clue regarding authenticity or anything like that. 

but heres the thread from when I tried making a King Cake.

but I make absolutely no claims as to authenticness. I wouldn't know the difference between an authentic one or not if it bit me.

edit: actually reading the responses.. lol,  I think that multiple rolls things ounds crazy elaborate, and I don't think i remember reading anything about that sort of method when I was trying to find a definitive king cake recipe to work with.  some had filling, but I think the ones I saw all had just one filling in a ring, not that multiple 0nes braided... that sounds EXTREMELY difficult.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

The one's I'm seeing online, the single filled ring ones, are not King Cakes, at least not authentic ones. I call them Joker Cakes.

It seems like the authenticity has been lost to two "cakes": the ring you mention and the giant, braided cinnamon roll. I even saw a video on YouTube were they treated it like a giant donut, deepfrying it on a vat of oil! (To their credit, they were a "donut shop" (Meche's Donuts), but that's just sacrilege!

A blog post I found yesterday suggests that, instead of filling the braids before braiding (which does sound difficult and messy), you pipe filling between the braids before second rise. The second rise would surround the fillng, making is seem like it was "filled", like so:


thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified) gives one an idea of how piping the filling might work.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and held the upper dough and lower dough together.  Step 5. and 6. previously stated would now read:  

 5:  When the dough has rested, roll into a long oblong piece, Divide into thirds for three long strips. Brush oil on one piece...cinnamon....     Spread raspberry on the second,  and lemon curd on the third.  (or cream cheese softened with egg yolk and sugar or ___ or ___or ___)

6. Once the dough is covered, fold each in half lengthwise and braid the dough.  

With a larger recipe each filled folded piece could be cut into strips.  (if doubled cut into two strips, tripled cut three strips, etc..  Braid three strips together, one of each flavor. 

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I'm going to make sure no one's around to see the mess I make of it! :D

Then again, I might just go with piping the filing between the braids, which strikes me as a bit less technical.

Then again, why not try both! ;) I can eat two King Cakes (oven a month or so). 

They make these cakes by the hundreds of thousands during Mardi Gras, so I rather wonder if they'd bother going through the trouble of filling and braiding when they can just pipe the filling, let the second rise surround that filling, and them hide the residual filling with frosting. ;) 

(The second picture in my original post is what the "authentic" ones look like. When you slice into it, you see laminated, filled cinnamon dough filled with all sorts of things, the traditional fillings being lemon, raspberry, cherry, pastry creme, and cream cheese.)

This picture:

rayel's picture

Stikingly beautiful Thomas.  I like the vibrant colors, and don't know what a king cake is suppose to look like. But I like yours.  Ray

R.Acosta's picture

but it sounds more like what you're looking for with the laminated dough.  I'm trying it out today, let you know how it goes:,,232711,00.html

tamraclove's picture

And I think I'm going to try the 3 jelly rolls and braided type. A couple of years ago I went looking for a traditional braided and filled recipe, and had no luck. This was before I knew about The Fresh Loaf.

The jelly rolls should not be hard, and as long as you pinch the ends it shouldn't even be messy! I will try to remember to post photos.

Did anyone else have any luck?