Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mardi Gras Cream Cheese filled King Cake

This is a post from 2008... so yes, since I'm not posting right now- I am recycling! I thought it might be of current interest.

Stemming back to the 1700's, King Cakes are the traditional celebratory cake of Mardi Gras. Originally king cakes were served at Mardi Gras Parties and the king cake held a bean inside instead of a plastic baby. When served, the "lucky" person having the bean on their plate was named the king or queen of the party, and was then responsible for holding the next Mardi gras party which would include all the guests present at the party where the bean was found.

Living in South Louisiana, I have eaten more than my fair share of King cake. The bakeries make them in just about every flavor imaginable. The most popular are Praline and cream cheese, which is my favorite. Up until today I had not made my own king cake, but a few days ago I stumbled across this Swedish Ring at Tartelette and knew it would be perfect for my cake. I used the dough portion of her recipe and adapted it to make my king cake, then filled it with cream cheese.

I am not an avid yeast user, so making bread which uses yeast as it's leavening always makes me a little nervous. I followed her directions exactly, but the first batch of dough turned out a bit dry. I made a second batch with less flour and it was perfect. We emailed back and forth and she confirmed it was the flour, she had forgotten to write to add the flour in stages. Since the first I made this I have learned to add  flour slowly- you can always add more, but can never take it away.

Cream Cheese filled King Cake

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast or 1 package instant yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter softened (1/2 stick)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon nutmeg
grated zest of one lemon (1 tablespoon)
2 1/2 cups flour

10 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
colored sugars (green, purple and yellow)

1. Heat milk to 105-110 degrees in a small saucepan over low heat. Place milk in the bowl of a standing mixer, add yeast and stir to combine. Allow milk mixture to rest for about 10 minutes or until frothy.

2. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add to milk mixture. Then add 2 1/2 cups flour, butter, sugar, salt, nutmeg and lemon zest. With the dough hook on low speed, mix until dough comes together. The dough will be slightly sticky, not too wet. If the dough seems very moist you may add up to 1/2 cup additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time. (having made my dough twice using both amounts of flour, I found less flour worked best as I incorporated a little extra flour when kneading it by hand).

3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until dough is soft and smooth. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise in a warm and draft-free place for about an hour, or until doubled in size. (Since it is quite a cold day today and my house is a little drafty I turned on the oven and sat the bowl on the range).

4. Make filling by beating the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar together with a mixer until fluffy then set aside.

5. Lay dough on lightly floured surface, punch down and roll into a 20" by 10" rectangle. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on one half of the dough, then fold other half over to cover. Pinch dough together to seal in cream cheese. Make a ring and pinch ends together, the ring can be a circle or oval. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rose for 45 minutes.

6. In 375 degree oven bake king cake for 20 minutes or until slightly browned. Remove from oven and set a side to cool. I add the bean at this point by making a small slit underneath the cake with a paring knife.

7. Mix icing ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Drizzle icing heavily over king cake, and while still wet, sprinkle with colored sugars.

Happy Mardi Gras!!


  1. You shouldn't worry about yeast so much, it looks delicious and so so jolly! I've never tried bread filled with cream cheese, but as I love curd cheese as the filling, I'm sure I'd love that too:)

  2. So, did you hide a baby or a bean in your king cake? It looks so beautiful with the traditional icing colors.

  3. So, did you hide a baby or a bean in your king cake? It looks so beautiful with the traditional icing colors.

  4. I hid a large dry fava bean in the cake. :)

  5. Looks wonderful! Hopefully no one broke a tooth on the bean! ;-)

  6. Hey it's King Cake time again! You should not worry about yeast dough so much. In any yeast recipe, especially one never tried, I always hold back a hefty cup of flour. Never dump in the entire amount listed. Depending on conditions like humidity, your liquids and fats will "want" to absorb an optimum amount of flour, and this can vary even from day to day. Exceed that flour amount that the liquid wants, and your dough will be dry. By holding back a cup of flour, I can add what I want to get the dough to an optimum state, as well as having a little extra freed up to use as bench or pin flour without having to reach into the bin and scoop.

    I would pick out a simple white bread recipe and make it a few times in succession. One that uses some milk and butter is better for learning, because the dough will be a little stickier than say a pizza dough and you can get a better handle on learning to "feel" the dough. With a little practice and judging your results, you'll gain more confidence. I have some old time bread recipes where it just says "add flour" but because I do so many breads, I can usually judge when my dough is just right.

    Wish you success on this year's cake ;-)

  7. I'm from Louisiana & I've never had King Cake!! This will be the year! Question: Could this be made the day before serving?

    This is a marvelous blog! I've been so blessed just by reading your recipes! I have MANY old southern cookbooks and am partial to southern fare! Thank you!

  8. To Anonymous:

    If you have some experience with yeast doughs, I would try a tiny bit higher hydration, just a tiny little more liquid or hold back a little bit of flour. This will give you a little more moisture content in the dough. If not, just follow the recipe, don't slice the cake. If the temperature is very warm in your area and you use a cheese in the filling, refrigerate and take it out an hour of two before serving to guard against overnight spoilage. Really, making the day before should not be a problem. You could make the day before and put the icing and sugar on the day of serving.

  9. This is a really good recipe. I've used it to make 5 king cakes now and everyone loves them. I add a praline filling in with the cream cheese filling when I make them. I also only add 1/4 tsp of lemon zest because the 1 T gave it more of lemon flavor than I was wanting. Thanks for the recipe! I blogged about your king cake today :)

  10. Made it today and it turned out perfectly. People devoured it in less than an hour. I do agree about lessening the flour. I put blackberry preserves and cream cheese in mine...and it turned out so yummy! This was my first king cake. I knew I could trust a Louisianan for a good recipe. Thanks and Happy Mardi Gras!! :)

  11. This looks delicious! Thanks for the idea...and the Sugar Rush!

  12. I followed a trail from this sweet collection on Sugar Rush to your blog, and can't wait to enjoy your King Cake! Oh, and congrats on being included in the Sweet Sixteen collection!

  13. Absolutely wonderful - I like to make my king cake near Ephiphany (in the French tradition) but prefer the N. American style cakes. This was delicious!!!

  14. I made this tonight for a slightly early Ephiphany treat - delicious. Many thanks!


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