Make Your Own King Cake

King cake on a large platter on a counter with gold, purple, and green mardi gras beads

It’s Mardi Gras season! That means it’s time for a party and a king cake. If you’ve never had this indulgent desert, you’re going to fall head over heels for the soft and sweet Mardi Gras treat. Although you can find king cakes with a variety of fillings and intricate braiding patterns, this king cake isn’t that complicated. It features a simple glaze made with powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water much like the king cakes you’ll find if you visit New Orleans on Fat Tuesday. Follow these instructions to make a delicious Mardi Gras king cake.

King Cake Glaze Ingredients

  • ½ cup of warm water
  • 2 (¼-oz.) package of active dry yeast
  • ½ cup plus 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 – 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup of candied citron, finely chopped (optional)
  • Unsalted butter, for greasing baking sheet
  • 1 uncooked dried bean, pecan half, or tiny king cake baby
  • ½ cup of warm milk
  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons of table salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest (roughly the amount produced from 1 lemon)

King Cake Glaze Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • colorful sanding sugar (purple, green, and gold)

King Cake Baking Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together water, yeast, and two tablespoons of sugar. Then set it in a warm place until it becomes fizzy.
  2. Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to beat salt, nutmeg, zest, 4 cups of the flour, and the remaining ½ cup sugar until its fully combined.
  3. Add egg yolks, warm milk, melted butter, and yeast mixture. Then beat on medium-high speed until smooth.
  4. Lightly flour a flat working surface and pour your dough onto it.
  5. Knead the remaining 1 cup of flour into the dough, ⅓ cup at a time, until dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic. This will take approximately 10 minutes.
  6. Coat at bowl with cooking spray and place the dough inside, turn the dough so that both sides are greased. Cover the bowl and let it rise for about 1 1/2 hours
  7. Punch the down dough, then place it back onto a lightly floured surface.
  8. Sprinkle the dough with candied citron, then knead until citron is evenly distributed.
  9. Shape the dough into a cylinder 30 inches long.
  10. Use the unsalted butter to butter a baking sheet then place the dough cylinder on it. Shape the cylinder into a ring and pinch the ends together.
  11. If you want to bake in your king cake surprise, press the pecan half or uncooked been into the dough ring from the underside of the dough so it’s completely hidden. If you want to use a plastic baby, you will have to wait until the cake is baked to insert it.
  12. Cover the dough ring and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk,  this will take about 45 minutes.
  13. When the dough is almost done rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  14. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, then let the cake cool for 30 minutes.
  15. Make the glaze by stirring together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and water in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth.
  16. Drizzle the cake with glaze.
  17. Sprinkle the cake with sanding sugar using alternating colors.
  18. Enjoy!

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