Celebrate Mardi Gras with your own personal Mini King Cakes. This whole grain king cake recipe has less butter and sugar but is just as delicious!
Why you should make these Mini King Cakes
King Cake is the quintessential Mardi Gras food. You gotta have a king cake if you want to celebrate Mardi Gras in my humble opinion.
As a kid, we ate king cake in class every day leading up to Mardi Gras break. Maybe it wasn't every day, but it felt like it. And it was awesome. (And yes, you get "Mardi Gras break" in Mobile, and it's the best thing ever.)
If you got the baby, you were responsible for bringing the next king cake to class.
When I lived in New Orleans, we had king cake parties where we all brought a king cake to taste. Hello, king cake hangover.
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Now that I'm in San Diego and almost 2000 miles away from Mardi Gras events, I decided I'd make some king cake.
What is a King Cake
What even is a king cake? Well, there are multiple types but for the sake of this post, we're talking about a Mardi Gras King Cake. And a Mardi Gras King Cake is a circular cake that is similar to a coffee cake and a cinnamon roll. It's typically made with brioche dough and covered in icing and colored sugar.
Why this recipe works
I've made king cake in the past when I lived in Birmingham and wasn't going home to Mobile for Mardi Gras. That time I used this recipe from Southern Living. I liked it but felt like it was a little dry and kinda boring.
This go-round, I made them mini, so everyone gets their own, which I personally think is more fun 🙂
I used a little extra milk, a little less sugar, whole milk greek yogurt instead of sour cream (for a little extra protein whoop whoop), egg yolks instead of a whole egg (more fat for flavor), and brown sugar on the inside. Plus, orange zest or lemon zest adds a touch extra flavor without overpowering the cake.
How to Make King Cake
Anything that involves yeast can be intimidating. I get it. But it really doesn't have to be hard.
- Start by testing your yeast. Make sure it bubbles and is alive before doing anything else.
- Then you mix together the wet ingredients. Stir together the dry ingredients, and add the wet to the dry in a mixer.
- Use the dough hook to knead the dough.
- Let the dough rise.
- Roll out the dough and spread with softened butter and sprinkle with brown sugar & cinnamon.
- Then roll up and slice into 10 to 12 pieces. Roll into a thinner shape so it can be shaped into a circle.
- Bake then let cool slightly and ice. Sprinkle with colored sugar and enjoy!
Tips for Making King Cake
First of all, be sure to test your yeast is alive. You don't want to add it to too hot milk. The water should feel like a warm bathtub. You'll know it's alive when bubbles form and it foams.
Then you really want to make sure you roll your dough really wide and pretty thick. You don't want the dough too thin when you are about to spread it with the butter for filling. This will prevent tearing. You want it to be as wide as you can make it so you can cut it into long enough pieces to shape into a circle.
You can always make these a little bit bigger if you want. I have made them into bigger mini cakes and they are obviously great too 🙂
The best ingredients for Mini King Cakes
Be sure to use full fat or 2% yogurt and milk. The extra fat will help your dough be more tender and delicious.
Recipe was tested using regular whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour. The pastry flour was a little lighter, but both were tasty.
Make Ahead Tips
These treats are great for making ahead of time because I personally think king cake is much better at room temperature and dare I say, a day old... (I really do. I always like the way king cake tastes a day after you make it or buy it from the store)
If you don't have yogurt, use sour cream or buttermilk. If you use buttermilk, use 7/8 cup instead of 1 full cup.
You can keep these in the fridge, on the counter, or in the freezer. Make sure they are tightly wrapped so they don't absorb flavors in the fridge or freezer or get anything on them from sitting on the counter.
These keep well for about 3 days, and then they'll get a little too stale. When they turn stale, you can always make them into a breakfast casserole.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you freeze king cake?
Yes, you can freeze king cake. Keep it tightly wrapped and freeze up to one month. Thaw at room temperature for around one hour.
Can you mail king cake?
I've never actually mailed a king cake, but I know people do it often. The nice thing is that it's usually pretty cool outside during Mardi Gras season, so you don't have to worry about the king cake getting too hot or weird.
Personally, I keep my king cake in the fridge because of the icing but I don't think it's completely necessary.
What to serve with Mini King Cakes
Depends on when you plan to enjoy your king cake. I love mine for dessert or as a snack served with a cup of tea or coffee. I also eat them for breakfast with some fruit and hard boiled egg or bacon.
Can't go wrong with king cake any time of day, and you really need to have king cake at least once during Mardi Gras season!
MORE MARDI GRAS RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE:
Mini King Cakes
For the cake:
For the glaze:
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-3 TBSP milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons sugar purple, green and gold colored
- In a small bowl, stir together warm milk, sugar, and yeast. Set aside for 5-10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, melted butter, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Add the yeast mixture.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer using the dough hook attachment, add the flour, nutmeg, and salt. Stir.
- Add in the yogurt-yeast mixture. Stir until combined, pushing down sides a few times.
- Knead using the dough hook attachment for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, oil the inside of a mixing bowl.
- Add the dough to the mixing bowl, and cover with a towel. Set aside until it doubles in size, about 90 minutes.
- When ready, punch down the dough and roll into a large 18x12 inch rectangle. Spread with the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Roll and cut into 12 pieces.
- Roll each piece into a circle and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Set aside for 25-45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375*F.
- Bake the mini king cakes for 12-16 minutes until lightly golden. Let cool.
- Stir together the powdered sugar, a tablespoon of milk, and vanilla. Add more milk if needed to make the glaze.
- Drizzle the glaze over the cooled king cakes and sprinkle with colored sugar. Enjoy!
This post was originally published on February 17, 2017. Text, recipe, and photos have been updated.
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