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King Cake

  • Yield: Makes one cake
King Cake


  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for bowl and baking sheet
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active-dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm (110 degrees) water
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Sanding sugar, for garnish


  1. In a small saucepan, combine evaporated milk, butter, and 1/3 cup granulated sugar over medium heat until incorporated; remove from heat. Let cool slightly, and stir in vanilla; set aside.

  2. Stir 1 tablespoon granulated sugar into warm water. Add yeast, and set aside until mixture begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, butter a large bowl; set aside.

  3. Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together eggs and milk mixture on medium speed; add yeast mixture. Mix until combined. Gradually add flour, beating until fully incorporated.

  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth. Place in prepared bowl, turning several times to coat. Let rise, covered with wax paper and a clean damp towel, in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  5. Once dough has doubled, punch down with your fist, and knead a few times in the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface; and divide evenly into six pieces. Roll each piece into a log, about 24 inches long. Braid 3 logs together; shape each braid into an oval, pressing the ends together to seal. Transfer to two buttered baking sheets; cover with wax paper, and let sit in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once dough has doubled in size, discard wax paper, and bake until just golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool slightly.

  7. In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar with remaining 1/4 cup milk to form a smooth, thick glaze. Add more sugar or milk, if necessary, for desired consistency. Working quickly, coat cakes with glaze, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Reviews (6)

  • CathyPeterson 18 Feb, 2015

    I made this yesterday and it is incredible. Only thing I did different is I kneaded for 10 minutes with my dough hook on medium/high speed. It's a sticky dough until after the 1st rise but definitely worth the hassle. Once baked, this cake has an incredible texture and is just slightly sweet. I will use this dough for my next batch of cinnamon rolls. I did not find the recipe or instructions confusing at all, but I ALWAYS read through ingredients & instructions twice. Thanks Martha.

  • maryjean54 16 Feb, 2010

    And where is the baby? That's the fun part.

  • brutuses 11 Feb, 2010

    This recipe left out the most important ingredients, the cinammon, sugar and butter that are applied between the braids. That is where all the flavor is. I'm from N.O. so I know what a real king cake has in it.

  • Tryingsomethingnew 24 Feb, 2009

    These directions are so confusing and complicated.

  • alucero 11 Feb, 2008

    Also confusing, the recipe calls for 1 package of yeast, Martha clearly refers to 2 packages of yeast during the demonstration. I've made the recipe as printed with 1 package of yeast with no problems. I wonder how if the dough would support 2 packages of yeast? As to how many cakes the recipe will make, I've made 3 at times, they're just smaller.

  • joliemichelle 2 Feb, 2008

    I am so happy to find this recipe. I'm a bit confused on how many cakes are made from the recipe. The top says 1 cake. The directions refer to 2 cakes. I made two.
    thank you. Love the show, magazine, and web pages.

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