A festive King Cake for Mardi Gras – filled with a pecan, brown sugar and cinnamon swirl – baked into a Bundt pan and decorated with colored sanding sugars.
Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday, which means it’s time for a festive Mardi Gras recipe! I made king cake for the first time five years ago and while it was amazing, I have been drooling over this Bundt cake version for well over a year now. Joseph woke up incredibly early on Saturday morning, so I decided it was a perfect opportunity to finally make it happen. Although it’s a little time consuming, most of the time is inactive rising and baking time; it’s actually a fairly simple recipe to put together and one that is absolutely, positively worth your time.
I ate a piece for breakfast yesterday morning aaaaaaaand I pretty much died and went to heaven.
Traditional king cakes are baked with a plastic baby inside, and it’s said that whoever gets the piece with the baby in it will have good luck. I didn’t use one, but if you do, just pop it right onto the dough before you roll it up and seal it shut.
If you’re not celebrating Mardi Gras, skip the colored sanding sugars and serve this for your next brunch or book club… the sweet, buttery brioche dough combined with the pecan/brown sugar/cinnamon swirl makes a perfect breakfast pastry; very reminiscent of a cinnamon roll or danish pastry.
Of the two kings cakes that I’ve made, I believe that this one is far and away the better recipe.
Make it today, tomorrow, next week… really, it’s a perfect cake absolutely any occasion!
Make the Dough: Whisk the milk, eggs, and melted butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour, granulated sugar, yeast and salt until just combined (the mixture will be fairly dry and shaggy). Attach the bowl to a stand mixer and fit with the dough hook. Mix on medium-low speed for 10 minutes (the dough will be soft and slightly tacky). Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
Assemble the Cake: Grease a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan. In a medium bowl, combine the pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Roll out the dough into an 18 by 14-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface, with the long side parallel to the counter edge. Spray lightly with water (or sprinkle with water and lightly spread it around with your fingers), and sprinkle evenly with the pecan mixture. Roll the dough away from you into a log and pinch along seam to seal. Form into a ring and seal the ends together. Place seam side up into the prepared Bundt pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake until deep golden brown and cake registers 190 degrees in the center on an instant read digital thermometer, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a wire rack, seam side down, and let cool completely, about 2 hours.
Make the Topping: Whisk the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons milk together in a bowl until smooth. Pour over the top of the cooled cake. Sprinkle one-sixth of the top with half of the yellow sugar, then repeat on opposite side. Repeat with green and purple sugars to form alternating bands of color. Serve at room temperature. Leftovers should be wrapped tightly or stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.