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Traditional New Orleans King Cake Recipe

Traditional New Orleans King Cake Recipe

Get in on the fun of the King Cake. Hide a little toy baby in the cake and whoever finds it has one year of good luck! —Rebecca Baird, Salt Lake City, Utah
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 40 min. + rising Bake: 25 min. + cooling YIELD:12 servings


  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • GLAZE:
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • Green, purple and yellow sugars


  • 1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1/2 cup sugar, butter, milk, egg yolks, salt, lemon peel, nutmeg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
  • 2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  • 3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a 16-in. x 10-in. rectangle. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar; sprinkle over dough to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet; pinch ends together to form a ring. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Brush with egg.
  • 4. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. For glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and enough water to achieve desired consistency. Spread over cake. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Yield: 1 cake (12 slices).

Nutritional Facts

1 slice: 321 calories, 9g fat (5g saturated fat), 73mg cholesterol, 313mg sodium, 55g carbohydrate (28g sugars, 1g fiber), 5g protein.

Reviews for Traditional New Orleans King Cake

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Reviewed Feb. 20, 2017

"this was my first king cake. and it was a recipe for disaster. i followed the instructions exactly but found it needed a bit of extra (sifted) flour. the dough was quite soft and i wasn't sure i'd kneaded it enough and the proofing area was cool so it took longer to rise. i laid it out for the second proof and it looked all right. i forgot the egg wash. when it come out of the oven it was quite late, the hole in the middle had disappeared and i really didn't know if it was done. (does anyone use a bundt pan for these things?) i left it overnight to cool and haven't iced it yet but had to have a taste. i searched a lot of recipes before deciding on this one (5 egg yolks for the 1st try - nope) and the only change i made was adding approx 1/2 tsp more cinnamon to the filling and the bit of extra flour. i don't need to search any longer for a king cake recipe. this is delicious - a nice hint of lemon. soft texture (it WAS a bit underbaked). and delicious. doesn't need and probably shouldn't have a fancy filling. and now to add the glaze and sugar sprinkles!"

Reviewed Feb. 28, 2014

"This recipe is similar to one I use every year. My children absolutely love the tradition of King cake and look forward to this once a year treat!!!!"

Reviewed Feb. 28, 2014

"I also live in New Orleans ... 47 years and Mckenzies had the best King Cakes. King Cakes are traditionally a brioche bread with sprinkled sugar. Tastee Donuts has the Original King cake recipe now. Now a days King Cakes taste like Cinnamon rolls and are stuffed with Cream Cheese and fruit filling and frosted. It takes away from the French bakery experience altogether, which is a shame.If I want an Italian Coffee cake I will go to Randazzo's. If I want a real King cake I would find a Brioche bread braid recipe and top it with fine colored sugar and 4 candied cherries."

Reviewed Jan. 12, 2013

"I live in New Orleans, and I think Randazzo's Bakery makes THE best King Cakes in town. They are a little pricey and don't sell year round, so I made this recipe to see if it would be good. This recipe is excellent! I agree with TriciaBaker that more cinnamon should be added for a stronger flavor. I added about a cup more confectioner's sugar and added a tsp of vanilla to the icing to give it more of the traditional icing I wanted. Overall, this recipe is an absolute success!"

pat o
Reviewed Mar. 8, 2011

"THANK YOU for answering my question ellenhguidry."

Reviewed Mar. 8, 2011

"The baby is hidden inside cake(push into cake from underside, so it won't show). Tradition says whoever finds baby provides next King cake!"

pat o
Reviewed Mar. 8, 2011

"Where do you put the baby?"

Reviewed Feb. 16, 2010

"I have made this 4 times. It is excellent. I do think that next time I will add more cinnamon for a stronger flavor. If using freshly grated nutmeg, double the amount called for to 1/2 tsp."

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