It’s Mardi Gras season and that means it’s time for some delicious traditional Mardi Gras King Cake. This homemade King Cake is a sweet treat perfect for a party or for breakfast. It’s filled with layers of cinnamon and tastes amazing with coffee!
Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake
Both of my parents grew up in New Orleans, so at this time of year, we usually celebrate with a traditional Mardi Gras King Cake. Usually this sweet bread is braided and formed into a circle. It’s baked with colored sugars on top, purple representing justice, gold signifying power, and green symbolizing faith. Traditionally, a little plastic baby is inserted into the bottom of the cake. When the cake is cut and served, whoever receives the piece with the baby is crowned “king” or “queen” for the day and also must throw the next party! As they say in New Orleans, “laissez les bons temps rouler.” Cajun French for “Let the good times roll!”
In New Orleans, people will start holding parties starting around January 6, on Epiphany until “fat Tuesday” (the day before Lent). King cake parties bring family and communities together to celebrate Mardi Gras. The baby placed inside represents baby Jesus. The King Cake derives it’s name from the kings who went to visit baby Jesus. Similar cakes are baked all over the world and can be made with puff pastry and also filled with creams.
How to make a Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake
A traditional Mardi Gras King Cake is made with flour, sugars, egg, yeast, water, salt, milk, cinnamon and butter. Many times a frosting is made with powdered sugar, water, lemon juice and colored sugar. The result is a beautifully rustic and colorful cinnamon cake bread that goes well with coffee! Here are some tips when making the traditional Mardi Gras King Cake:
- When mixing the ingredients, be patient about combining everything and make sure the milk is heated to the right temperature to help activate the yeast.
- Allow the dough to puff for a full 90 minutes the first rising.
- You can never add too much cinnamon sugar 😉
- Don’t overwork the dough when rolling it out. Less working with the dough will ensure a fluffier result.
- Use food coloring to color sugar purple, gold and green. This Wilton food coloring kit comes in handy for making special colors like purple. Add the colored sugar onto the top of the dough before baking if you don’t want frosting. The regular sugar tastes just as good, and these days, many folks turn down things with too much icing or frosting.
- When baking the King Cake, use a sharp knife inserted to see if the dough is baked inside. Bake until the dough is firm, but try not to over bake as the cake will be less moist.
Ready to try baking your own Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake and start your own fun tradition? Here’s the recipe: