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mini mardi gras king cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

  • Author: kate jones
  • Yield: 2 large king cakes, 16 small king cakes, or any combination





  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (mild, like peanut or canola)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast)
  • 9 cups all purpose flour (lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a spoon)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon table salt



    • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon


    • 8 ounces cream cheese
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract or vanilla
    • 1/2 heaping cup canned cherries or strawberries

    CINNAMON SUGAR (you won’t use all of this):

    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cinnamon


    • 1 pound powdered sugar
    • 1 stick butter, melted
    • 1 teaspoon almond extract
    • Enough milk or half and half to reach desired consistency


    • Purple, green, and gold sprinkles
    • Plastic babies


    To prepare the dough, combine milk, sugar, and oil in a large pot. Heat just to boiling, stirring occasionally, and then remove from heat.

    If you’ve got lots of ice handy, dump all that you have into a clean sink and then place the pan of scalded milk over the ice. This way, the milk mixture cools quickly and the melted ice just drips down the drain.

    When the milk is warm (around 105-115 degrees), remove from ice and sprinkle yeast over the milk mixture. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. Stir. Mix in 8 cups of flour (lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife) with a wooden spoon (the dough will be VERY soft, almost like a batter) and cover with a clean dish cloth and allow to rise for 1 hour. 

    Mix remaining 1 cup flour with baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sprinkle over the dough and then mix it in with the wooden spoon. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the pan and refrigerate for at least a few hours and up to a few days–just be sure to check on it periodically and punch the dough down if necessary.

    When ready to make your King Cakes, decide how you want to prepare them. This dough will make enough for 2 large king cakes, 16 small, individual cakes, or a combination of the two (like one large cake and 8 small cakes). You’ll also need to decide how you want to fill them (I’m including instructions for cinnamon cream cheese, cream cheese and fruit, and cinnamon sugar. See the notes below for individual filling instructions.

    To Make Large Cakes

    To prepare cakes, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn dough onto a greased surface and divide in half. Roll one half into a 4-5″-24″ rectangle. If using one of the cream cheese fillings, spread with 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture. If using cinnamon sugar, spread about 3-4 tablespoons softened butter onto the dough, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. and then carefully roll the dough lengthwise into a tube. Seal the edges of the dough and then carefully form a circle and seal the two ends together.

    Place on a greased cookie sheet and cover with a clean cloth.

    Preheat oven to 375 and repeat with other 1/2 portion of dough.

    Bake each ring for 20-35 minutes or until the tops are deep, golden brown–you don’t want to burn them, but you want to make sure the cakes are cooked all the way through. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. 

    To Make Individual Cakes

    Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 16 equal portions. Then divide each portion in half and roll each portion into “snakes” about 10-12″ long. Lay one snake on top of the other, carefully tie the bottom snake into a knot around the top portion of dough, then tie the other dough snake into a knot. Tuck the ends under the dough and arrange the knots so they look the way you want them. (See pictures above to see how this works…it’s easier than it sounds.) Repeat with remaining dough, making 8 cakes per pan.

    Melt 4-6 tablespoons of butter and brush generously over the cakes. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Cover and allow to rise for 20-30 minutes. While the cakes are rising, preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 18-20 minutes (or longer if necessary) or until the tops and edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

    Glazing the Cakes

    While the cakes are cooling, prepare the glaze. Mix powdered sugar and melted butter together with an electric mixer. Add in almond extract and then add enough milk to achieve the desired consistency you want for your glaze. When the cakes are cool, spoon the glaze over the cakes and then sprinkle with alternating yellow, purple, and green sugars and top with a plastic baby. 



    Cinnamon Cream Cheese (enough for 1 cake)

    Combine softened cream cheese, cinnamon, almond extract, and powdered sugar in a small mixer and mix with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.

    Fruit & Cream Cheese

    Combine softened cream cheese, canned fruit, almond extract, and powdered sugar in a small mixer and mix with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy.

    Cinnamon Sugar

    Whisk together granulated sugar and cinnamon. You will not use the entire recipe–save any leftovers for other uses.