Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cake is an adaptation of the traditional King Cake. Generally, a dough-filled ring forms the King Cake. I thought it would be fun to cut the filled dough into cinnamon rolls and use them to form the ring. Guess what? It worked like a charm! Also, I should mention that I used my bread machine to do most of the work!
About the King Cake
The King Cake is as much a symbol of Mardi Gras as are the festivities that dominate the Carnival season. The King Cake tradition was brought to the area in the early 1700’s by Basque settlers to celebrate the Epiphany on January 6. Over time, the Epiphany signaled the start of the Carnival season, ending on Fat Tuesday, a.k.a. Mardi Gras.
The traditional Louisiana King Cake is a ring of cinnamon roll dough that is topped with an icing. It is usually finished off with the Mardi Gras colors of green, yellow, and purple.
King Cakes generally have a small figurine called a fève hidden inside. In New Orleans, the fève takes the form of a small plastic baby. Originally the plastic baby symbolized the baby Jesus. Today, it symbolizes luck and prosperity to whomever finds the baby. That person has the honor of providing next year’s King Cake, or throwing the next Mardi Gras party.
Ingredients for Cinnamon Roll Dough
I used the following ingredients for the Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cake dough: Eggs, milk, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, Kosher salt, all-purpose flour, and instant yeast.
For the filling, I used unsalted butter, light brown sugar, and ground cinnamon.
Making the Cinnamon Rolls
I started by adding the dough ingredients to the pan of my bread machine, ending with the yeast. Then, I selected the dough cycle and walked away.
When the dough cycle finished, I removed the dough to a floured surface and divided it in half. Each half weighed approximately 17 ¾ ounces.
I wrapped half of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for a later use. I rolled the other half into a 10-inch by 15-inch rectangle. Then, I brushed the dough with some melted butter. I left about an inch border on one of the long sides. After that, I sprinkled on the brown sugar followed by the cinnamon.
Starting on the long side without the border, I rolled the dough tightly towards the other side. Then, I pinched the edges to seal the roll.
If I were making the usual type of King Cake, I would have formed the cinnamon filled rolled dough into a circle. However, I decided to cut it into 12 individual cinnamon rolls. Each cinnamon roll was approximately 1 ¼-inch thick.
I arranged the cinnamon rolls around the edges of a 10-inch cake pan that I had sprayed with non-stick spray and lined with parchment paper. Then, I placed a round 4-inch metal pastry cutter in the center of the pan. The reason for doing this was to ensure that the cinnamon rolls had the proper shape when they had risen.
I covered the pan with plastic wrap and placed it in my electric oven that I had heated for exactly 1 minute and 45 seconds. This is a trick that I learned from Julia Child. It produces the perfect environment for the dough to rise. After about a hour, the cinnamon rolls had doubled in size.
I baked the cinnamon rolls in a preheated 350° F oven for about 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, they were nicely browned and perfectly cooked.
Making the Icing for the Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cake
While the cinnamon rolls were baking, I made the icing. I used cream cheese, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and confectioners’ sugar. I also set aside green, yellow, and purple sprinkles to use in finishing the King Cake.
First, I beat the cream cheese and butter together until it was smooth. Then, I added the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat everything together until the icing was smooth and creamy.
Finishing the Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cake
After I removed the cinnamon rolls from the oven, I let them cool for about 5 minutes. Then, I inverted them onto a wire rack and removed the parchment paper from the bottom. I also removed the metal pastry cutter. Next, I inverted them again onto another wire rack and inserted the plastic baby into one of the gaps. I set the wire rack inside of a rimmed baking sheet that I had lined with aluminum foil. While the cinnamon rolls were still warm, I spooned on the icing.
I finished the Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cake with a sprinkling of green, yellow, and purple sprinkles.
The Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cake was amazing. It was like a giant cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing, and lots of it. Laizzez les Bon Temps Rouler! Yum!
Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cake (Bread Machine)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup (8 ounces) milk or enough when added to eggs to total 11.6 ounces of liquid
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ¼ cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
- 3 ¾ cups (18.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
- 1 cup (7.5 ounces) light brown sugar, packed, divided
- 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ cup (2 ounces, ½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups (10 ounces) confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Green, Yellow, and Purple Sprinkles
- If desired, small plastic baby
- Add all dough ingredients to pan of bread machine in order listed. Select dough cycle.
- When dough cycle finishes, transfer dough to floured surface. Divide in half, roughly 17.75 ounces each. Wrap half of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for later use.
- Roll remaining dough into a 10-inch by 15-inch rectangle.
- Brush dough with 3 Tablespoons melted butter, leaving a 1-inch border on one of the long sides. Sprinkle with half of brown sugar and half of cinnamon, leaving 1-inch border on one of the long sides.
- Spray 10-inch cake pan with non-stick spray; line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Starting on non-border long side, tightly roll up dough. Pinch edges to seal. Cut into 12 cinnamon rolls, approximately 1 ¼-inches each. Place cinnamon rolls around the outer part of prepared pan. Place 4-inch metal ring in center of pan. (See Note 1)
- Cover with plastic wrap. Place in warm location until double in size, about 1 hour. (See Note 2)
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Bake cinnamon rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Invert onto wire rack; remove parchment paper and metal ring. Invert again onto wire rack; place rack in aluminum foil lined baking pan with sides. If desired, insert a plastic baby into one of the gaps. (See Note 3)
- Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy. (See Note 4)
- While cinnamon rolls are still warm, spoon on half of icing. Allow icing to drip down the sides and the middle. Sprinkle with green, yellow, and purple sprinkles.
- Repeat process with other half of dough. (See Note 5)
- Yield: 2 Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cakes.
Chula's Expert Tips
- I used a 4-inch round metal pastry cutter for the center.
- I turned on my electric oven for exactly 1 minute and 45 seconds to produce the perfect environment for the dough to rise. It doesn't matter what temperature is set because the oven temperature only rises slightly above 100° F.
- If using a plastic baby, wait until the cinnamon rolls have baked before inserting it. Otherwise, it could melt from the heat of the oven.
- If the icing seems too thick, add a small amount of milk to thin it out.
- If you like a lot of icing like I do, double the ingredients for the icing for 2 King Cakes.