Quick and Easy King Cake


Mixed, baked, and frosted in just over an hour: Quick and Easy King Cake. No problem. And just in time for Mardi Gras or Kings Day.

With Mardi Gras in just a few days, this year certainly calls for a Quick and Easy King Cake. What makes it ‘quick and easy’? Basically, it’s a no-yeast, buttermilk sweet dough. But more on that in a minute. First, a few facts on King Cake:

It is typically baked between Kings Day (Epiphany on January 6) and Mardi Gras by New Orleans bakeries and other King Cake-loving folks (me and my friend, Rebekah!)

According to this NPR article, the little plastic baby that is/was baked inside symbolized baby Jesus on King’s Day (Epiphany) the day the Three Kings/Three Wise Men visited him. There are all sorts of interesting and funny stories on how this plastic baby was baked in the cake…and now typically is not baked inside.

Baby Jesus in King Cake

King Cake is generally:

  • Not really ‘cake’ – but a yeast bread with a cinnamon/sugar-filling
  • Shaped into a braided ring
  • Frosted with creamy white frosting
  • And sprinkled with gold, purple and green colored sugar

My King Cake started at noon on Kings Day! I decided to surprise my kids with a King Cake as an after school snack. At 3:00 PM when they walked through the back door, there were shouts of surprise all around. There, sitting on the kitchen table was the brightly-colored cake.

This King Cake is quick and easy because:

  • It contains no yeast – so there is no rise time.
  • Buttermilk bread dough that I adapted so it could be pressed out, then rolled up.
  • Baked it in a pretty beveled bundt pan to simulate the braiding.

King Cake baked and frosted in a little over an hour: Quick & Easy King Cake for Mardi Gras | @tspcurry

And my version is healthier! It has about a ton less butter and sugar. But it must still be sprinkled with sugar on top; this is because tasting the dusting sugar first on your tongue makes the cake seem extra SWEET (sweeter, actually, than adding more sugar inside).

The traditional Mardi Gras sweet homemade in a little over an hour: Quick & Easy King Cake via @tspcurry
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May your Mardi Gras be sweet!

Print Quick and Easy King Cake | @tspcurry

Quick and Easy King Cake

  • Yield: 8-12 servings

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King Cake in a little over an hour? Yup! Thanks to a special type of dough – and a secret way to bake this Mardi Gras favorite.


  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour + about 1/4 cup or more for shaping dough
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1 tablespoon 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1–2 tablespoons milk
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Green, purple, and gold colored sugars for dusting

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  1. Grease a bundt pan well with butter and flour or baking spray containing flour.
  2. Combine brown sugar, cinnamon and Kosher salt in a small bowl.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, using a fork, stir together all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, soda, salt.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir with a large wooden spoon until all flour is incorporated.
  5. Turn onto a well floured (with whole wheat flour) surface, dust with more flour.Using your hands shape and pat dough into a 16 x 5 – inch rectangle. Brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon mixture – leaving 1/2-inch border. Fold dough over filling. Cut into three pieces for easy transfer into bundt pan. Transfer to bundt pan and gently press seams back together. Brush top of dough with remaining 1 teaspoon of butter.
  6. Bake in a heated 425-degree oven for about 25 minutes or until edges are barely golden. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Flip pan over and turn onto a cooling rack or a serving plate (depending on where you want your icing to pool!)
  7. Whisk together cream cheese, milk and confectioners sugar – adding more sugar or milk depending on consistency desired. Drizzle over warm cake.
  8. Sprinkle with colored sugar

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Have you ever eaten (or baked) King Cake? Do you have other favorite Mardi Gras treats? Let us know – we love the food in New Orleans like these Baked Beignets!