King Cake, Filled Two Ways

King Cake | Lemon Sugar

I’m feeling very out-of-sorts and distracted today.  We’re in the middle of a very busy week, mostly the fault of my first grader.  Between after-school basketball camp, dance class, gymnastics and a dance-clinic performance, our evenings are shot.  Oh, dinner you say?  What’s that?  Laundry?  How many times can you wear a pair of jeans before they’re truly dirty?

And yep, I’m the brilliant Mom who suggested we make homemade Valentine’s Day cards for school again this year.  ‘Cause you know, those are quick and easy.

Oh, and that first-grader?  My sweet Madeline who never ever gets in trouble at school?  Principal’s office today.  For throwing mud on the playground.  Yep.  She’s mortified.  {So am I, but we’ll call it a teaching moment and move on.}

I am definitely not winning any Mother-of-the-Year awards around here lately…perhaps best illustrated by the fact that I attempted to bribe my three-year-old with Cheetos today.  Me, Ms. Organic non-processed food.  Cheetos. 

King Cake | Lemon Sugar

I realize you came here to read about King Cake.  I’m getting there, I promise.

It’s not like I’m not used to being busy.  With my husband eternally on shift-work, it seems like we’re always busy.  But for some reason this week, I just feel so unorganized about it all.  I’m hosting a bridal shower for my future sister-in-law next weekend, and I haven’t even thought about what I’m serving yet.  Usually by this time I have list after list, a Pinterest board, a mental to-do list and tasks assigned to everyone involved.  This time?  I honestly can’t even tell you what time the shower starts.

I think I need a spa day.  You know, to gather my thoughts and compose myself.  Oh wait, that’s right.  No time for a spa day.

I might just take one despite the whole no-time thing, because right now I’m just spinning and not getting anything done anyway.  At least if I take a spa day, I’ll get a massage out of the deal or something.

Ok, let’s talk about King Cakes.  I’m done complaining.

King Cake | Lemon Sugar

I’ve wanted to make a King Cake for quite some time, but it seems like by the time I got around to it, Mardi Gras was over so it just went back on my list for the next year.  This year, a friend asked me to make some King Cakes for a gender-reveal party, which is such a fun idea that I couldn’t say no!  Instead of the traditional baby (pictured above), we found some adorable pink and blue babies to hide in the cake.  She’ll serve the cake at her party, and whoever has the baby in their slice will also get to announce if they’re having a boy or a girl!  How fun is that?

{Want some back-story on the King Cake?  Here’s a good link.}

I love this recipe because the dough is a dream to work with.  It’s smooth and rises beautifully.  The recipe says it takes two hours for the first rise, but every time I’ve made it I’ve been able to call it good at about 45 minutes.  The finished bread is sweet and very soft, the perfect pair for the rich filling.

So, I came up with two filling choices, one is a cinnamon-pecan praline filling, and the other is a delicious cherry bourbon cream cheese filling.  Both are spectacular.  Since this recipe makes two cakes, I’d suggest trying them both!

King Cake | Lemon Sugar

Hope you love it – don’t forget to leave a comment below so I know you were here, and come see me on Facebook, will ya?  I’m off to work on my to-do lists!


King Cake
Cook time
Total time
Traditional Mardi Gras King Cake with two filling options: A gooey cinnamon-pecan or a kicked-up cherry bourbon cream cheese. Either way, this easy recipe is sure to please! Recipe adapted from Allrecipes
Serves: 2 cakes, approximately 12-16 servings each
For cake:
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 and ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ⅔ cup warm water, approximately 110 degrees
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
For Cherry Bourbon Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Cherry Bourbon (or other flavoring, such as vanilla extract)
For Cinnamon Pecan Filling:
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup white sugar
For glaze/icing:
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • ¼ cup milk or heavy cream (more or less for desired consistency)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bread dough:
  1. Heat milk to steaming hot but not boiling. Add ¼ cup of butter to hot milk, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  3. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture.
  4. Whisk in the eggs.
  5. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg.
  6. Add the flour one cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes, or mix with dough hook for 10 minutes.
  7. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
  8. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  9. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half, using a kitchen scale if available.
  10. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  11. Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
Filling option 1 (Cherry Bourbon Cream Cheese)
  1. In a medium bowl, combine room temperature cream cheese and sugar.
  2. With a hand mixer, beat until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add cherry bourbon (or other flavoring substitute) and beat to combine.
Filling option 2: (Cinnamon Pecan)
  1. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Melt butter, and pour over brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
  3. Chop pecans into small pieces, and set aside.
Assembly and baking:
  1. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches).
  2. For cream cheese filling, carefully spread cream cheese mixture over the dough. Be sure to leave a border without filling for easy closure.
  3. For cinnamon filling, spread brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over dough.
  4. Sprinkle with pecans and white sugar.
  5. Beginning with the long edge (the 16 inch edge) roll the dough into a jellyroll or log shape. Pinch closed, all the way across.
  6. Turn dough so seam is on the bottom.
  7. Shape dough into a ring, and connect the ends, pinch to seal.
  8. Slice ½ inch-deep cuts 2-inches apart across the top of the dough.
  9. Cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes.
  10. Brush dough with egg wash, and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack before icing.
For icing:
  1. Stir together confectioners sugar, milk/cream and vanilla until smooth.
  2. Pour over top of cake, and dust with sanding sugars as desired.
  3. Bury the baby, and enjoy!

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