I’m all for using shortcuts in the kitchen if the end result is just as good, or quite close. Using my bread machine to make dough is one of the shortcuts I like to use.

Yesterday, I posted a video that explained the history and tradition of the Mardi Gras King Cake, which is more of a bread or pastry than a cake. I tried my hand at making one for the first time, and I used my bread machine to create the dough. The recipe came from allrecipe.com. People gave the recipe 4 1/2 stars out of 5, so I decided to try it.
This is a delicious treat — very moist and only slightly sweet (except for the glaze). I’ve only had King Cake once before, and that was several years ago. I can’t compare it to a King Cake from a New Orleans bakery. All I know is that it was really good, and I’m thinking that if I add cream cheese to the filling next time, it would make a great breakfast food, like a danish.
I used organic flour, butter, sour cream and local eggs in this recipe. You’ll also notice that my cake doesn’t have the colored sugars on it. I didn’t have any natural food dye, and I’d rather not add artificial colors. The colors wouldn’t have changed the flavor but would have added chemicals that my boys (and I) don’t need.
One of the traditions of the King Cake is to hide a small prize inside the cake like a tiny plastic baby or a coin. If you’re going to do that, do it after the cake has cooked but before you frost it.
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F/40 to 45 degrees C), or as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk, or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon purple colored sugar, or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon green colored sugar, or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon yellow colored sugar, or as needed
  1. Add all of the ingredients for the dough into your bread machine, following the manufacturer's directions on what order to put the in. Choose the dough cycle on the machine and start the cycle.
  2. Check on the dough in 5-7 minutes to make sure there is enough liquid in it (if you still have a lot of flour that isn’t mixed in, you might need to add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is the right consistency)
  3. When the bread machine has worked its magic, take the dough out and roll into a 28 inch by 10 inch rectangle on a floured surface.
  4. Mix together the filling ingredients (except for the pecans) and spread evenly over the dough.
  5. Spread the pecans evenly over the dough.
  6. Roll the dough up from the 28 inch side into a long rope.
  7. Place the dough onto a greased baking sheet, seem side down, and shape into a ring.
  8. Cover with a cloth, and allow to sit and rise for 30 minutes.
  9. While the dough is sitting, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  10. When dough has sat for 30 minutes, cook in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes.
  11. After the cake has cooked, let it sit for 10 minutes.
  12. Mix the glaze, combining the powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and milk.
  13. If you’re going to include a prize inside, cut a small slit inside the cake and insert before you put one the glaze. The glaze will cover up where you hid the prize.
  14. After cake has cooled for 10 minutes, drizzle the frosting evenly over the cake, see the photo at the right.
  15. Sprinkle the colored sugars in alternating blocks of purple, green, and yellow.
My notes
  • I only put pecans on half of the dough before I rolled it up so the cake was half nuts, half no nuts. (My boys don’t like nuts in things.)
  • My 8-year-old said after eating it that it needs cheese in the middle. I hadn’t even mentioned to him that I thought about adding cream cheese to the filling would be yummy.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

How to make king cake in your bread machine
Using the dough cycle on the bread machine takes half the work out of this traditional Mardi Gras treat.