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Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

The King Cake is a traditional Mardi Gras dessert. It was created to use up all of the rich things (butter, sugar, alcohol) in our pantries before a season of fasting begins.

This is a delicious traditional King Cake with a flaky, buttery brioche, a sweet filling of toasted pecans, cane syrup, cinnamon, and coated with a bourbon glaze.

Ingredients for the Brioche:

1 envelope of Active Dry Yeast

1/4 cup warm water (115 degrees)

1 teasoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons orange zest

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces

1 egg beaten and 2 Tablespoons water for the egg wash

1 plastic baby trinket or dried bean

Dissolve the yeast in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, and let stand until frothy. Dissolve the salt, sugar, orange zest, and milk in a small bowl. When dissolved combine the milk mixture with the yeast mixture. Mix the cinnamon with the flour.

Add the eggs with the mixer on low speed, then gradually add the flour until all is incorporated. Knead on low speed for 10 minutes until a smooth elastic dough is formed. A little more flour may be necessary. With the motor running, incorporate the butter into the dough, a little at a time but rather quickly so that it doesn’t heat up and melt.

Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, loosely cover it with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour in a warm spot. When the dough has doubled in bulk punch it down, cover, and place it in the refrigerator overnight. You can skip this step if you are pressed for time.

The following day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough out to a 6 x 18-inch rectangle. Spread the pecan filling (recipe below) out in the middle of the rectangle along the whole length, leaving about 1 1/2 inches on each side. Place

the baby trinket somewhere with the filling. Fold the length of the dough over the filling and roll up tightly, leaving the seam side down. Turn the roll into a circle, seam side down and put one end inside of the other to hide the seam, and seal the circle. Place the cake on a baking sheet and let rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Brush all over with the egg wash, then place the king cake into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. When the cake cools, brush with some of the glaze (recipe below) thinned out with more cold water. This will help the sugars adhere. Decorate the cake with the colored sugars and drizzle some of the thicker glaze onto the cake. Place on a large round serving plate and decorate with Mardi Gras beads, doubloons, and whatever else that you like.

Ingredients for the filling:

1 cup pecan halves, broken up slightly and roasted

until fragrant

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 pinch of salt

4 Tablespoons Steen’s Cane Syrup

Combine all of the ingredients together.

For the glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon bourbon


Combine the sugar and bourbon, and whisk in enough water to make a glaze that can be drizzled.

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