King Cake!

Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

Today is indeed Fat Tuesday…. and we most certainly are missing Nola this year and the sun that Mardi Gras brings.

King cake is a very typical treat for the entire season of Mardi Gras which lasts from epiphany until the start of Lent.

But… did you know there are two different kinds of king cake??

I (d) made a French version of the cake.  It is basically an almond and butter mixture inside of a  puff pastry.  Extremely delicious, if I do say so myself.

B and I used to get these types of King Cakes at our favorite french bakery on Magazine Street, La Boulangerie.  I am more of an almond fan then a sweet cinnamon one, so this cake fits me perfectly.

Now, I used this recipe from Martha Stewart after seeing her do it on Martha Bakes.  {ps, is anyone loving that show as much as me??}  BUT, I don’t actually have a full day of my life to devote to hand making puff pastry. So, I bought some from the store in the freezer section and just rolled out the fold-marks.   Way easy.


Golden Deliciousness

She calls the King cake a “Pithivier”

  • FOR THE FRANGIPANE (center filling)
  • 2/3 cup blanched whole almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 pound puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  1. Make the frangipane: In the bowl of a food processor, blend the almonds and the sugar until very fine. Add the butter, egg, rum, flour, and almond extract and process until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and shape into a 6-inch round. Freeze until firm, at least 45 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out puff pastry into a rectangle about 18 by 9 inches and 1/8 inch thick. Using a 9-inch cake pan as a guide, cut two 9-inch rounds from the dough with a very sharp paring knife or pastry wheel. Using a 1-inch circular biscuit cutter or a large round pastry tip, cut out a steam vent from the center of the top round. Place rounds on a baking sheet and freeze until very firm but still pliable, about 20 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and heavy cream for the egg wash.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough from freezer. Place frozen frangipane round in the center of the bottom dough circle. Brush the border with egg wash, taking special care not to let the egg wash drip down the sides, which would inhibit proper puffing during baking. Place the second round on top, and press to seal, using your fingers. Using a small paring knife, score the top of each Pithivier in a circular, decorative cross-hatch pattern. With a small paring knife, score around edges in 1/4-inch increments. Transfer Pithiviers to a baking sheet sprayed well with water and chill for at least 1 hour.
  5. Remove Pithiviers from freezer. Brush top with egg wash, again being careful not to let any excess drip down over cut edge of dough. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  6. Transfer Pithiviers to a wire rack, and let cool at least 20 minutes before serving.

Since (d) tried this French version, I decided I would try my hand at a more “New Orleans” King Cake. (read: sicky sweet with crazy colored sparkes). Nothing said Mardi Gras like a little flash! But again, I didn’t want to spend the whole evening making a yeast risen sweet roll dough, so I took a storebought shortcut, too: cinnamon rolls. Try to find unsliced cinnamon roll or sweet roll dough if you can. Otherwise when you take out of the can, its easiest just to flatten it out and try to re-connect the cuts to get an even-ish piece of dough.

I bought two tubes of cinnamon rolls and augmented the recipe with the filling and icing from this recipe (originally from

FILLING (This was a little too much quantity for my two cans of rolls, so play it by ear when you actually go to fill)

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (because I didn’t have pecans handy)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup currants (because I didn’t have raisins handy)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter


  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (I used 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon water (I used about 2 1/2 tablespoons total)
  1. For filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup currants. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the mixture and mix until crumbly.
  2. Roll out dough so you have two large rectangles. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side.
  3. Bring the ends of each roll together to form an oval shaped ring. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. If you bought un-sliced rolls, use kitchen shears to cut a 1″ slit every 2″ along the top of the ring
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 20-35 minutes, covering with aluminum foil at about 15 mintues to avoid excessive browning.
  5. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake (I used a whole walnut). Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.
  6. Note: When you are ready to ice the cakes, you might want to make the icing seperate for each cake, especially if you are going to sprinkle them with colored sugars. The icing hardens pretty quickly.
  7. Don’t try to use the icing that comes with the cinnamon rolls, this is designed to sort of ooze into the roll. You want something that will sit nicely on top as a pedestal for your beautifully colored sanding sugar.
  8. Gently sprinkle alternating Mardi Gras colored sanding sugar around your ring. Some folks do three large portions, others do thin stripes like I did – the sky’s the limit.

I bought my sugar at Home Cake, a funky little store on our block that sells toppers, wrappers, and adornment in every shape, size, color imaginable. While we were there we found out they also sell homemade buttercream by the pound in case you are baking and not feeling like whipping up any of your own.

No matter which type of King Cake (Gallete de Rois) you choose to bake, its a festive way to celebrate the feast as we enter this lenten season. Enjoy!

Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

4 thoughts on “King Cake!

  1. It turned out beautiful! Now I’m craving it. We eat Gallete de Rois on Epiphany and order it from Belle Pastry (I’m thinking of trying to do a blogger meet up there). The owner is a family friend!

Leave a Reply