King Cake

The weekend before Ash Wednesday I had my family and my husband’s family over for Sunday dinner.  Since Fat Tuesday was in two days I was looking for a great King Cake recipe.  I found one on and thought it would make a great addition to the Sunday meal.  My husband also wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.which I made using a boxed mix and tub frosting because it reminded him of his childhood.

For the King Cake, I wanted one that had cream cheese filling and was really rich.  This recipe gives me all that and more.  I did change the recipe a bit because I knew that my guests wouldn’t want something too sweet (unbelievable, I know).  I skipped the colored sugar and just went with the colored frosting, although I made three large stripes instead of two inch stripes with alternating colors.  This is a similar to a very rich, wonderful Danish.

King cake represents the three kings who brought gifts to the baby Jesus.  For the tradition of Epiphany in the privacy of your kitchen cut the cake in as many parts as people in the party.  In one of them, the a little plastic baby (big enough to prevent swallowing).  In the old days, they used a dried fava bean.  Everyone picks 1 piece of cake the one who discovers the toy is made the king of the day and wears the crown.  He picks a queen by putting the toy in her glass and everyone raises his or her glass and applauds. Same process in reverse if a lady finds the toy.  Tradition says that the next party or King Cake should be at the king’s expense.  Enjoy the recipe.

NOTE:  Traditionally, you may NOT prepare and serve this before Twelfth Night (Jan. 6) or after Mardi Gras Day!  The problem is that once you serve this cake, it will be requested year round.

Yield:  2 cakes                 Cook Time:  15 – 20 minutes



  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast (I used 4 1/2 t of Rapid Rise Yeast in a jar)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided (2 c +)

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (16 ounces total)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Colored Frosting:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 drops green food coloring
  • 2 drops yellow food coloring
  • 2 drops blue food coloring
  • 2 drops red food coloring

Colored sugars:

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 drops green food coloring
  • 2 drops yellow food coloring
  • 2 drops red food coloring
  • 2 drops blue food coloring


  1. Cook first 1/4 cup butter, 16 ounces of sour cream, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a saucepan over low heat until butter melts (stir often).  Let mixture cool to 100 – 110 degrees.
  2. Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes.  Add butter mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour a little at a time to make a soft dough.
  3. Place dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Place in a greased bowl, turn dough to grease top of dough.  Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.  I heat my oven to 170 degrees and then turn it off and wait before using it as the warm draft-free place to let my doughs rise.  Just be sure it’s not so warm that it begins to cook.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add egg and blend well. Add sugar, salt and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.
  5. Punch dough down and divide in half.  Place 1 half onto a lightly floured surface; roll to a 28 x 10-inch rectangle.  Spread half of cream cheese mixture on dough.  Roll dough, in jellyroll fashion, starting at long side.  Place dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal.  Repeat with remaining dough and cream cheese mixture.  Next time I prepare this recipe I will insert a coffee can in the middle of the cake ring during baking to ensure the hole doesn’t close up as the cake rises while baking.
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden.  After cool, insert a dried bean, whole almond, pecan half or King Cake Baby into the bottom of each cake.
  8. Decorate with bands of Colored Frostings, and sprinkle with Colored Sugars.  Ice the cake one strip at a time from center of ring to outside.  Each stripe should be about 2 inches wide.  Spread colored icing on cake and sprinkle colored sugar over icing.  Repeat with each color of icing and sugar until entire cake is covered in icing and sugar topping.
  9. COLORED FROSTINGS:  Stir together powdered sugar and melted butter.  Add milk to reach desired consistency for drizzling; stir in vanilla.  Divide frosting into 3 batches, tinting 1 green (signifies Faith), 1 yellow (signifies Power), and combining red and blue food coloring for purple frosting (signifies Justice).
  10. COLORED SUGARS:  Place 1/2 cup sugar and drop of green (signifies Faith) food coloring in a zip-top plastic bag and seal.  Shake and squeeze vigorously to evenly mix color with sugar.  Repeat procedure with 1/2 cup sugar and yellow (signifies Power) food coloring.  For purple (signifies Justice), combine 1 drop red and 1 drop blue food coloring before adding to remaining 1/2 cup sugar.

Recipe adapted from