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The King Cake is a New Orleans tradition that involves a pastry, a tiny plastic baby, and a party. King Cake is baked with a tiny plastic baby hidden inside; whoever gets the slice with the baby in it has to host the next party. Make sure to buy a new tiny plastic baby so you can get the full effect from this cake! Sprinkle with purple, green, and gold sugar, or decorate with whole pecans and candied cherries. 

Recipe Summary

45 mins
30 mins
3 hrs
4 hrs 15 mins
2 cakes


Original recipe yields 16 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified


Instructions Checklist
  • Make pastry: Scald milk over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

  • Stir together warm water, 1 tablespoon white sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

  • Add cooled milk mixture to yeast mixture and whisk in eggs. Stir in remaining white sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Beat flour, 1 cup at a time, into milk/egg mixture. Once dough comes together, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

  • Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

  • Make filling: Combine brown sugar, pecans, flour, raisins, and cinnamon in a bowl. Pour melted butter on top and mix until crumbly.

  • Roll each piece of dough into a 10x16-inch rectangle. Sprinkle filling evenly over dough and roll up tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at a wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval-shaped rings.

  • Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors, make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1-inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

  • Make glaze: Stir together confectioners' sugar and water in a bowl until smooth.

  • Push doll into bottom of one warm cake. Drizzle glaze over both warm cakes.


Be sure to tell everyone to inspect their piece of cake before they begin eating it. To be extra careful, use a plastic toy baby that is too large to swallow, or hide an orange wedge or 3 to 4 pecan halves inside the cake (avoiding items that may hurt someone's teeth), and then place the honorable toy baby on top of the cake for all to see and adore!

Nutrition Facts

418 calories; protein 7.2g; carbohydrates 68.7g; fat 13.4g; cholesterol 47.3mg; sodium 300.5mg. Full Nutrition