Mardi Gras King Cake

A homemade take on a traditional king cake adapted from the Satsuma and Dark Chocolate Brioche in Paul Hollywood's Bread.

A note on this recipe: The original recipe is in metric and, like all the bread recipes I post, I'm going to keep it that way because it helps to make sure that your bread doesn't have texture issues. 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 11 hours
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 11 hours 25 minutes
Servings 16 servings



  • 250 g bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 3 g salt
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • 5 g fast-action (quick-rise) yeast
  • 80 ml whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • Finely grated zest of two tangerines, satsumas, or other small oranges I used two Cuties mandarin oranges
  • Juice of one of your tangerines
  • 130 g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing


  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 75 g salted butter, softened
  • 115 g granulated sugar


  • 1 egg beaten with a small amount of milk


  • Sanding sugar or Sprinkles in the colors of your choice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp milk or water (or enough to make a thin pancake batter consistency)
  • Small plastic baby Optional



  1. Fit your mixer with the dough hook, then measure the flour into the mixer bowl. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other side of the bowl.

  2. Add the milk, eggs, zest, and juice to the mixer bowl and mix first one slow speed for one minute, then turn up the speed to medium for another 4 minutes. 

  3. After the dough has been mixing for a total of 5 minutes, begin adding the butter, a little at a time for the next 4-5 minutes. I suggest adding it one tablespoon at a time until the dough is shiny and elastic.

  4. Transfer your prepared dough to a large, greased mixing bowl. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight. 

Filling and Shaping

  1. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside. 

  2. Remove the dough from the fridge and turn out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll the prepared dough into a large rectangle, approximately 13 x 9 inches. 

  3. Spread the remaining softened butter over the entire surface of the dough, followed by the cinnamon and sugar.

  4. Starting with the long end of your dough rectangle, carefully roll the dough into a spiral, similar to the way you make cinnamon rolls. Pinch the dough to seal the seam. 

    This next bit of the shaping is entirely optional, but I think it adds a little extra bit of "Wow!" to the finished king cake. 

    Using a very sharp knife, slice the filled and rolled dough in half, lengthwise, then twist the two halves together. Try to keep the cut end up and your filling inside. It's tricky, I know. Hence, why this step is entirely optional. 

  5. Whether you cut the dough or not, join the two ends of the dough together to form a large ring and very, very carefully transfer to your prepared baking sheet. 

    Leave to prove in a warm place for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until at least doubled in size. It will be large! 

  6. While your king cake proves, preheat your oven to 395 degrees Fahrenheit. 

    Brush the king cake with the lightly beaten egg before baking for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the thickest part comes out clean. Alternatively, the internal temperature should register at least 190 degrees when tested with a meat thermometer. 

  7. Remove the finished king cake from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. 

    In a medium mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Add in the milk or water a tablespoon at a time until you achieve the consistency of thin pancake batter. It should be thin enough to spread, but thick enough that it doesn't just bleed into the cake.

  8. Spread the icing on over the entire king cake. Before it sets, sprinkle the top with your icing with sanding sugar or sprinkles. If you, like me, are going to use the traditional Mardi Gras colors of yellow, green, and purple, make sure to alternate between the colors. 

    If you've opted to, hide a small plastic baby in your cake. Make sure to tell whoever you offer the cake to that the baby's there, though. We don't want anyone to get hurt. 

    Whoever gets the baby in their piece has to buy or make the next king cake!