King Cake

King Cake is a popular dessert, eaten at Epiphany celebrations, and also associated with Mardi Gras celebrations. A tiny toy trinket (often a “baby”) is baked inside. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various “privileges and obligations.”


2 (1/4 oz each) packages of active dry yeast
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Cup warm milk (about 110 degrees F)
1/2 Cup melted butter
5 egg yolks
4 Cups flour
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 package cream cheese
1/2 Cup powdered sugar

2 Cups powdered sugar
1/4 Cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp colored sprinkles

Gently combine yeast, sugar and warm milk together in a large bowl. Allow mixture to stand for about 10 min. Mixture should look creamy, and slightly foamy.

Add egg yolks and melted butter to yeast mixture. In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, nutmeg and lemon zest. Beat the dry flour mix into the yeast-milk mixture in 1 Cup additions.

When the dough is mixed and coming together, turn the sticky mixture out onto a dry, floured surface and knead till smooth – this step should take about 8 minutes. Place kneaded dough in a large, lightly-oiled bowl and cover (with a slightly damp cloth works best). Allow the kneaded dough in its bowl to “rest” in a warm spot for about 2 hours. Expect the dough to double in size.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/2 Cup of the powdered sugar. Mix well. In another small bowl, mix the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar, lemon juice and 2 Tbsp of milk. Set both bowls aside.

Turn the dough onto the floured surface. Using a rolling in, roll the dough into a 6″x30″ rectangle. Spread cream cheese-powdered sugar mixture across the center of the rectangle. “Fold” the longer two edges of the dough together and seal.

Using your hands, shape the dough into a long cylinder, and place on a greased baking sheet, seam down. Shape the dough into a “wreath” ring, and press the baby (if using) into the bottom, so that it is completely hidden by the dough.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place a well-greased 2 lb cylindrical metal coffee can in the center of the ring, so the round wreath shape will hold up during baking. Cover the dough ring with a towel, and place in a warm place to let rise again until doubled in size, about 45 min.

Bake cake for about 30 min. Remove coffee can from the middle of the cake, and allow cake to cool thoroughly. Drizzle top of cake with lemon juice/sugar mixture and festoon with sprinkles.

We adapted this recipe from