King Cake is a fun, colorful cake to serve at a Mardi Gras celebration – or for any occasion because it’s absolutely delicious! (Thanks to Truvia for sponsoring this post!)
Guess what this coming Tuesday is? It’s Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras! Do you usually celebrate? We don’t usually do much to celebrate but I do like making a special treat for my family, like a king cake. 😉
So in case you’re not familiar with this cool holiday, here’s a little background…according to historians, Mardi Gras dates back thousands of years. When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to merge the popular local traditions into the new faith. As a result, the Mardi Gras season became a precursor to Lent. Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain and England.
Many historians believe that the first American Mardi Gras took place on March 3, 1699, when French explorers landed in what is now Louisiana. They held a small celebration and dubbed the spot Point du Mardi Gras. After that, New Orleans and other French settlements marked the holiday with street parties, masked balls and lavish dinners.
On Mardi Gras in 1837, the first New Orleans Mardi Gras parade took place, a tradition that continues to this day. In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Mardi Gras procession with marching bands and rolling floats. Since then, krewes are still a part of the Carnival scene in Louisiana. Other lasting customs include throwing beads and other trinkets, wearing masks, decorating floats and eating King Cake. Booyah!!
So yes, back to King Cake. 🙂 There are many ways to make this cake. It’s made from a yeast dough that rises and then is rolled out into a rectangle shape. It’s then filled with a yummy layer of filling and rolled up into a long cylinder. There are all sorts of fillings to fill it with, but we like a cinnamon, Truvia Brown Sugar Blend (to make it lower calorie) and pecans.
It’s reminiscent of a cinnamon roll except after you roll it, you shape it into a circle and fuse the ends together, creating a ring. After you bake it, you put icing on it and sprinkle yellow, green and purple colored sugar on the top. It’s so fun and festive!
Cutting into it is my favorite part (of course)! It’s so pretty to see the ring of filling in the cake. It’s so delicious and can be eaten for dessert or breakfast, too! The tradition of the King Cake is that before you cook it, you put a small plastic baby inside the cake somewhere.
Why a baby? The Mardi Gras or Carnival season officially begins on January 6th or “King’s Day” – also known to Christians as the Epiphany. Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means “to show”. Bethlehem is where infant Jesus first showed himself to the world.
In New Orleans, the person who receives the piece of cake containing the baby, must provide the King Cake for the next Mardi Gras party! Why purple, green, and yellow (gold)? It’s traditional to bake a King Cake in honor of the three kings. The official colors of Mardi Gras, are purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.
So there you have it. Now you’re a Mardi Gras King Cake know-it-all! Does all this make you want to run to your kitchen and bake a King Cake? It should!
Especially when you can make it lower calorie and low sugar by using Truvia Baking Blend and Truvia Brown Sugar Blend instead of regular sugar and brown sugar. I also included substitutes for some of the butter by using applesauce. This is an amazing cake that works for not only your Mardi Gras celebration but also for breakfast. It’s light, flavorful and will impress everyone!
Mardi Gras King Cake
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp. butter*
- 1 1/4 oz packages active dry yeast (or rapidrise yeast)
- 1/3 cup warm water 110ºF
- 2 Tbsp. Truvia Baking Blend or 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup + 2 tsp. Truvia Brown Sugar Blend or 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. pecans chopped
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
- 2 Tbsp. butter melted
- 1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp. milk or until thinned to your liking
- purple yellow and green colored sugar for topping
- Measure milk in a microwavable dish. Add butter and microwave for 1 minute, until the butter is melted. Stir and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- In a measuring cup, add the warm water and 1.5 teaspoons of the Truvia Baking Blend (or 1/2 Tablespoon of sugar). Sprinkle yeast in and stir lightly. Let stand until bubbly, about 10 minutes.
- Pour room temperature milk/butter mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add in yeast. Whisk together lightly. Whisk in eggs, the remaining sugar, salt and nutmeg.
- Add the first cup of flour in and whisk. Add the rest of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
- Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes. Spray the mixing bowl the dough was stirred in with cooking spray and place kneaded dough inside. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
- Make filling by stirring together brown sugar, chopped pecans, flour, applesauce, melted butter, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.
- When risen, punch dough down and roll dough on a lightly floured surface. Shape into a large rectangle, approximately 10x16" or so. Sprinkle the dough with the filling and spread to cover the rectangle. Beginning at the wide side, roll tightly like a jelly roll. Bring the ends of the roll together to make an oval. Cut off a little piece at the ends so they're straight lines and use a little water to press the end together.
- Place on a greased baking sheet and let rise for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in sized.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown on the outside. Let cool and then mix powdered sugar and milk together until to your desired consistency. Drizzle on cooled cake. Sprinkle colored sprinkles on top, alternating purple, yellow and green.
- Slice and enjoy!
Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says
I’ve been dying to make a King Cake!! This is beautiful. I might have to give it a try this weekend!
I think I ate almost the whole thing by myself, Dorothy!! It’s seriously amazing! Like a cinnamon roll cake. Heaven!! xo!
Andi @ The Weary Chef says
Wow, Jen! You are a Mardi Gras expert, and here I thought it was only celebrated in the south! Even as a southerner, I didn’t know any of this history. Thanks for the lesson. Thanks, too, for this amazing recipe! I’ve never had a cinnamon king cake. I want a piece!!
Well, I guess I should add Wikipedia as my source for the info, hahaha!! It was super interesting to read about, I only knew a small handful of info about Mardi Gras! King Cakes are pretty much the best invention ever. Thanks Andi! xoxo!