King Cake

Students at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College celebrated Mardi Gras


King Cake is one of the tastiest traditions of Mardi Gras. Shaped like a Bundt cake with a hole in the middle, King Cake is usually topped with a powdered sugar glaze and green, purple and yellow sprinkles to represent the colors of Mardi Gras. Traditionally, a little porcelain or plastic baby is baked inside the cake. Whoever finds this trinket is crowned the king or queen for the day. The king or queen is believed to have good luck and prosperity in the coming year and is responsible for making or buying the King Cake next Mardi Gras.

Students at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College celebrated Mardi Gras last week by baking King Cakes. The following recipe makes two cakes. In order to eliminate a potential choking hazard, we threw the baby out with the cake batter.


Cake Dough

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 16-ounces sour cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

In a saucepan over low heat, stir together the butter, sour cream, 1/3 cup of sugar and salt until the butter melts. Remove from heat and cool to 100 to 110 degrees.

Dissolve the yeast and 1 Tbsp. sugar in the warm water. Set aside for five minutes.

Add the butter mixture to the yeast mixture. Beat in the eggs and 2 cups of flour.

Gradually stir in additional flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, rotating the dough in the bowl in order to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees) free from drafts for one hour or until doubled in bulk.

Cake Filling

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and continue beating until well blended. Add sugar, salt and vanilla extract and mix until smooth and creamy.

Punch dough down and divide into two equal portions. Turn one portion out onto a lightly floured surface, roll to a 28-by-10 inch rectangle and spread half of the cream cheese mixture on the dough. Roll up the dough, jellyroll fashion, starting at long side. Place dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and punching edges together to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and cream cheese mixture to make a second cake.

Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.

Decorate with bands of colored frostings and sprinkle with colored sugars.


  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Green, yellow, red and blue food coloring

Beat sugar and butter together. Add milk to reach desired consistency for drizzling and stir in ¼ tsp. vanilla extract. Divide frosting into three bowls, tinting one batch green with 2 drops of green food coloring, one batch yellow with two drops of yellow food coloring, and one batch purple with two drops of red and two drops of blue food coloring.

Colored Sugar Sprinkles

  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar, divided into three ½ cup portions
  • Green, yellow, red and blue food coloring

Place 1/2 cup sugar and 1 drop of green food coloring in a zip-top plastic bag; seal; shake and squeeze vigorously to evenly mix color with sugar. Repeat procedure with 1/2 cup sugar and yellow food coloring. For purple sprinkles, combine 1 drop red and 1 drop blue food coloring before adding to remaining 1/2 cup sugar.

Michaella Irlbeck is an Instructional Assistant at the The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. For more information about the program, visit