Monday, February 7, 2011


It's Mardi Gras season! Every year (or, the last two, that is) I've had a Mardi Gras party. My best friend is from New Orleans, and we went often to beautiful New Orleans during college - that's how I met King Cake (different than the French Galette des Rois Elizabeth shared last year). This is a traditional cake during the Mardi Gras season; the sweetness does not kid around, and inside is small baby (what's a cake without one, I ask?). The person who gets the slice with the baby has to buy the next cake.

The party gives me a reason to have King Cake at least once a year. And here in Boston, most have never had it before, so I get to introduce others to the tradition. Step-by-step guide on making your own cream cheese-filled (my favorite!) New Orleans King Cake after the jump.

(So many baking posts - what's that about?)


1c evaporated milk
2 sticks butter, unsalted
1/3c granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
5c all purpose flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 packages of active, dry yeast
1/3c warm water, 110 degrees
1 tbsp granulated sugar
a few tablespoons of milk

1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioner's sugar

a few cups of confectioner's sugar
a few tablespoons of milk, room temperature
a few tablespoons of lemon juice
about 2 cups of granulated sugar
food coloring

I have a baby from an old King Cake, but you can use a dried kidney bean or perhaps try a party store to find one, or online of course, everything is there.


In a small sauce pan, combine evaporated milk, butter, and 1/3 cup sugar on medium heat until melted and disolved. Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and let cool slightly.

In a small bowl add warm water to 1 tbsp of sugar, give a quick stir and add two packs of yeast. After a quick, gentle stir, set aside to bubble, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine flour, nutmeg and lemon zest. Make a well in the middle.

Oil the inside of another large bowl.

In yet another small bowl, combine eggs.

In the photo above you can see most of this bowl and sauce pan action.

Mix the eggs with the evaporated milk mixture, then add yeast mixture. Pour this into the well of your flour bowl. With a fork, gradually mix in your dry ingredients with your liquid and add the salt.

Once your dough starts to form and no dry flour is left, put it on a floured surface and kneed into a smooth ball. Place ball into oiled bowl and turn until all sides are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2 hours in a warm, draft free place.


To make the filling, mix the cream cheese and 1 cup confectioner's sugar until well combined and set aside.


Once the dough has risen to almost twice its original size, punch it in the bowl and knead a few times. Place on a floured surface and shape into a rectangle 6 inches wide by 30 inches long.

Spread cream cheese mixture on half of the rectangle along the length of your dough. Fold over and pinch a seam.

Shape dough into an oval. Open up the end and tuck the other inside and pinch to seal. Place on parchment on a baking sheet, cover and let rise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

After the dough has nearly doubled again, brush milk on top of cake. Put sheet into oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until slightly golden. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool slightly.


Carefully lift up a section of the cake and slip the baby (or bean) under and insert it into the cake.


To make the icing, combine confectioner's sugar with a few tablespoons of milk and lemon juice until you get a thin icing to your liking. To create the colored sugar, put about half a cup of sugar into 3 glasses. Add six drops of food coloring (blue and yellow in one, blue and red in one, yellow in one) to each glass and stir with a spoon until mixed.

After the cake has cooled some and working quickly: drizzle confectioners sugar mix in sections and allow to run down the sides of the cake and follow by generously (generously) sprinkling the colored sugar on top of the icing, one color at a time. Continue until you've made your way around the cake.

Next, have a party. Nothing else tastes quite like King Cake, and it is quite a taste. I also make my friend's Mom's jambalaya recipe (you can see the prep in this photo) and it's a damn shame I only do that once a year, too.


  1. Ohhhh, this has made me HOMESICK! And hungry for some king cake: cherry filling, cream cheese filling...all of the fillings!

  2. "The cake has a small trinket (often a small plastic baby, sometimes said to represent Baby Jesus) inside, and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations (such as buying the cake for the next celebration)." -wikipedia

    Ooooooooooh! Hahaha, the first time I read this, I was really concerned.