Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cake is an adaptation of the traditional King Cake. Generally, a dough-filled ring forms the King Cake. This time, I thought it would be fun to cut the filled dough into cinnamon rolls and use them to form the ring.
This time, I thought that 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 Mardi Gras 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.
What You’ll Need For Cinnamon Rolls
The cinnamon rolls have two basic parts – the dough and the filling.
- The Liquids: The liquids consisted of milk, eggs and unsalted butter.
- The Solids: I used all-purpose flour for making the cinnamon rolls, enhanced with Kosher salt and granulated sugar.
- The Yeast: Since I used my bread machine, I used instant or bread machine yeast.
For the filling, I used unsalted butter, light brown sugar, and ground cinnamon.
Here’s How I Made 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. Then, I cut the dough 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 x 15-inch rectangle.
- Then, I brushed the dough with some melted butter, leaving about an inch border on one of the long sides. Next, 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 the roll 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 an 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.
Here’s How I Made the Icing
You can’t have a King Cake without delicious icing decorated in Mardi Gras colors.
While the cinnamon rolls were baking, I made the icing using 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.
Here’s How I Finished 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!
Frequently Asked Questions
I used the other half of the dough to make a second cinnamon roll king cake. Sometimes, however, I will use the other half of the dough to make regular cinnamon rolls.
Sometimes when I make the king cake, I will use a cream cheese filling. For this I beat together cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar and spread it on the dough. Then, I combine some sugar, cinnamon and melted butter and spread that on top of the cream cheese.
The name king cake is derived from the Biblical story of the three kings bringing gifts to the Baby Jesus.
Other King Cake Recipes
If you’re a fan of King Cake, you should try one of these other amazing recipes:
I first posted the Mardi Gras Cinnamon Roll King Cake on February 2, 2019. Since we’re now in the middle of the Carnival season, I thought that it was time to update the post.
This update contains enhanced photographs and text. However, the recipe is unchanged.
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 (See Tip 1)
- 6 Tablespoons (3-ounces) 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 (3-ounces) 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 making second cinnamon roll king cake.
- 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 Tip 1)
- Cover with plastic wrap. Place in warm location until double in size, about 1 hour. (See Tip 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 Tip 3)
- Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy. (See Tip 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 Tip 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 Cinnamon Roll King Cakes.