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What's on Tap

Recipe: Mardi Gras King Cake

Posted February 2

This recipe comes from Haydel's Bakery in New Orleans. As a New Orleans native, I am picky about my King Cake and this recipe really tastes like the authentic cakes I grew up eating.

This recipe was originally published on WWL-TV's website. I adapted it a bit because I love a filled King Cake. I actually use a cream cheese filling from another recipe and it comes out spectacular. If you don't like cream cheese or want to add something else, apple pie or fruit fillings work well too. 

New Orleans King Cake Recipe

To make the dough you will need:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose shortening
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 1 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 2 sm. packs active dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp lemon flavor
  • 1/4 tsp orange flavor
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla flavor
  • 1/4 tsp butter flavor
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

To make the colored sugar you will need:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp purple food color
  • 1 tsp yellow food color
  • 1 tsp green food color
  • Directions: Divide the sugar in three bowls. Add a few drops of the desired color in each bowl, mix together with a wire whisk until blended.

To make the cream cheese filling/topping:

  • 2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Directions: Beat the ingredients together until completely smooth. Then spread it on top of your King Cake dough.


  • In a mixer at the first speed combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, salt, and shortening until well creamed. 
  • Add eggs and continue to cream.
  • Dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the flavors. Once dissolved add to creamed mixture and continue to mix.
  • Add flour and mix until dough tightens.
  • Remove from mixer and kneed into a ball.
  • At this point sprinkle some flour on top and cover with a clean kitchen towel.
  • Allow the dough to rest for 1.5 hours.
  • When dough has rested roll out into an oblong piece.
  • Brush on canola oil covering the entire piece.
  • Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar liberally over the whole piece.
  • Once the dough is covered with the cinnamon sugar and oil, fold it in half lengthwise.
  • Cut into 3 strips and braid the dough.
  • Gently roll the dough by starting at one end and working all the way down to the other end.
  • This will make the dough a nice long piece that can then be shaped into a circle.
  • Once shaped place on a baking pan covered with piece of parchment.
  • Allow the dough to rest again until it doubles in size. (About 90 minutes)
  • After it has gotten larger, spread the cream cheese mixture or fruit filling over the dough.
  • Then, spoon and alternate sprinkling the three colored sugars on top of your circular piece of dough.
  • Bake at 370 degrees F for 12-15 minutes (for unfilled cake) and 18-22 minutes (for filled cake) until dough is golden brown. Times depend on the thickness of the cake and whether or not you have toppings on it. Just check it periodically so it doesn't overcook.
  • Let it cool. If you topped with cream cheese, put it in the refrigerator overnight. That will help the ingredients set nicely.
  • Serve cold or warm it in the microwave for 10 seconds or so.

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