King Cake (Mardi Gras Style)



  • 1 C warm milk (110F-120F)
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 4 yolks
  • 1 stick sweet butter, cold, cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbls orange juice
  • zest from one orange
  • 2 tbls bourbon
  • 4 C flour


  • 3 C toasted pecans
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick sweet butter
  • pinch of salt


  • 2 C confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tbls orange juice
  • 1 tbls bourbon
  • 1 tbls water
  • sanding sugars in purple, yellow and green


  1. Heat the milk to 100F-120F
  2. Pour the milk into the bowl where you will be assembling the dough, sprinkle in one packet of yeast, and 1 tbls of sugar, stirring to combine.  Let it stand for about 10 minutes. If the yeast is active, it will start to bubble a bit.
  3. Now, add the rest of the sugar, salt, nutmeg and zest to your yeast, and mix (I just used a spoon).
  4. Then add the yolks, bourbon, extract, OJ and mix again.
  5. Add the flour, cup by cup. 
  6. Add the butter a few pieces at a time (in 1/4 tsp cubes), until well incorporated
  7. Turn dough out onto floured counter (or other floured surface) and knead until the dough is no longer shiny, is elastic, and springs back when pulled, 8-12 minutes approximately.
  8. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  9. In the meantime, make the filling. Put the toasted pecans, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, butter and salt into a food processor, and process until crumbly.
  10. After dough rises, punch it down. Let it rise again for 30 minutes, then punch it down again.
  11. Now roll it out to a 28"x8" rectangle.
  12. Put on the filling, leaving a 1" perimeter. Brush this perimeter with an egg yolk/milk mixture.
  13. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch shut along the sides, and on the two ends. 
  14. Form this cylinder into a ring, and pinch the two ends together.
  15. Transfer to cookie sheet, cover with damp towel again, and let it rise again, for about 30 minutes.
  16. Then, brush it with some of the remaining yolk/milk wash, and bake it until it is golden, and the underside is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  17. Let it cool for at least an hour. 

For Glaze: Combine the confectioner's sugar, orange juice, bourbon until smooth. It'll be pretty thick, brush it on top or spoon it as best you can. Immediately after, grab your sanding sugars, and start sprinkling in alternating colors.

For Cheese Filling: Combine 2-8 oz packages of softened cream cheese, 2 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tbls of milk or cream in a mixer until well-combined and fluffy. Thin with more milk/cream if need be, and spread in a thin layer on the dough before spreading the pecan layer on the dough.