King Cake


Bread Dough

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surfaces

Cinnamon Pecan Filling

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped


  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk

Finishing touches

  • yellow sanding sugar
  • green sanding sugar
  • purple sanding sugar
  • plastic baby, washed and dried


Combine the water, yeast, and half the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Stir, and allow the yeast to bloom 5-10 minutes until it looks a little frothy.
Stir in the rest of the sugar, the salt, milk, sour cream, vanilla, and egg yolk. Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of flour with the unsalted butter using either a pastry cutter or clean hands until the mixture resembles wet sand.
Stir the flour, in thirds, into your yeast mixture. If using a mixer, use the dough hook to knead on low for about 4 minutes. If doing this by hand, it will take about 8-10 minutes to get a nice smooth dough. Add additional flour by the tablespoon if the dough is too sticky, but be conservative as too much flour leads to a heavy dough.
Wipe out your large mixing bowl and spray lightly with oil or brush with butter. Shape the dough into a ball, flip twice in the greased bowl, then cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free spot until about doubled in size. This will take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour depending on ambient temperature.
When the dough has almost risen, melt the butter for your filling and set aside. Chop the pecans, and combine your brown sugar and cinnamon.
On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough into a rectangle about 8 inches wide and 14 inches long. Brush with the butter, leaving a 1" margin at the top edge. Spread the sugar mixture over the butter and sprinkle with the pecans. Do not add your king cake token at this time.
Starting at the long edge closest to you, roll up the dough into a tube and then carefully shape into a circle or oval on a 10" cake board or parchment lined cookie sheet. Tuck the ends into each other and gently press to seal. Use a little water at the tips of your fingers to help if needed.
Lightly cover the cake with plastic wrap and set aside to rise another 30-40 minutes.
10 minutes before the rise time is complete, preheat your oven to 350 F. When that is ready, remove the plastic from the king cake and bake for 30-40 minutes until the cake sounds hollow when tapped and is a golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool 20-30 minutes before frosting.
Before frosting the cake, carefully lift an edge and press your king cake baby into the cake. You shouldn't be able to see where you added the token.
Make the frosting by whipping the butter until fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add the confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, until combined. Add the vanilla, and then add the milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a thick glaze consistency is reached. If you are coloring the glaze, separate into bowls and do so now.
Spread the glaze over the cake and decorate with the sanding sugar, sprinkles, or candies.
Store the cake in a cake box or cake carrier at room temperature overnight or in the refrigerator up to a week. Enjoy!

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