Getting ready for Fat Tuesday? Be sure to make this gluten free king cake for your festivities. It’s like a giant colorful cinnamon roll ready to be shared with your friends and family!
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I’ve never experienced Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but I have had a king cake and they are delicious! I used to work with someone who was from New Orleans (or NOLA as the locals there call it). She kept talking about how she missed king cakes and finally brought one in for one of our luncheons. It was so good!
What is King Cake?
King cake is a Mardi Gras traditional “cake” that isn’t really a cake at all. It’s more of a bread or pastry, a lot like a giant cinnamon roll. It represents when the Three Wise Men, or “kings,” brought gifts to baby Jesus on Epiphany.
King cake is typically served at the beginning of January through Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
King cakes are meant to be very indulgent “cakes” full of sugar and richness. They’re usually adorned with the colors of Mardi Gras (green, gold, and purple), which represent faith, power, and justice.
Everyone has their own idea as to what a traditional King cake is. There are several variations that I found on the internet. One with a simple cinnamon sugar filling, another with a strawberry cream cheese filling. I think they can be as indulgent as you want them to be!
In this recipe, I chose to try a cream cheese filling and a little bit of cinnamon sugar, but you can choose whatever strikes your fancy (see below for variations).
A tiny plastic baby is usually embedded in the cake, which represents the baby Jesus. I chose to leave out the tiny baby, but everything else about this gluten free King cake is spot on and I’m sure you’ll love it!
EASY STEPS FOR MAKING GLUTEN FREE KING CAKE
This gluten free King cake begins with one of my favorite versatile doughs, my gluten free sweet dough.
- Make the gluten free sweet dough through the first proof and refrigeration.
- Dump it onto a well-floured surface and knead it until smooth. Cut the dough in half and wrap the other half in plastic wrap, where it can be used for so many other recipes.
- Roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle and spread it with softened butter. Then sprinkle it with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
- Spoon the cream cheese mixture in as straight a line as possible over the bottom 1/3 of the dough.
- Carefully pull the dough up and over the cream cheese mixture. This will get messy, just accept it and move on.
- Use your fingers to gently press the dough to enclose as much of the cream cheese mixture as possible into that first roll. Again, some will seep out so just accept this fact.
- Continue rolling the dough up as best you can and seal it as best you can.
- Using two large spatulas on either end of the roll, carefully scoop it up and place it in a well-greased Bundt pan (or on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you’d prefer). Form it into the best circle you can. The top will eventually be the bottom, so it doesn’t matter what it looks like on top.
- Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until doubled in size.
- Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool in pan on wire rack for about 10 minutes before loosening with a blunt knife and flipping out onto serving platter.
- Mix together glaze ingredients and pour glaze over top of cake. While glaze is still wet, sprinkle colored sugars over cake.
Here are some ideas for flavor variations in your own King cake:
- Use the filling from my gluten free cinnamon rolls and make essentially one giant cinnamon roll ring.
- Knead about 1/2 cup of raisins into the dough before rolling it out. Use the same filling as my cinnamon rolls and roll into a giant cinnamon roll ring.
- To make a praline filling, use the same filling but add toasted pecans.
- For a praline cream cheese filling, use the praline filling and add cream cheese filling as above.
- To make a strawberry filling, spread strawberry jam over dough before rolling.
- For a strawberry cream cheese filling, spread strawberry jam over dough and then add cream cheese filling as above.
Even if you can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, you can still make an authentic gluten free king cake to celebrate the tradition!!
Gluten Free King Cake
- ½ recipe ultimate gluten free cinnamon roll dough
- 4 tbsp (56 g) butter, very soft
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- cream cheese filling (see below)
CREAM CHEESE FILLING:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups (250 g) powdered sugar
- 2-3 tbsp milk for desired pouring consistency
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- colored sanding sugar
- Make the filling by beating the cream cheese until smooth. Add the egg, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Make the dough according to recipe instructions and allow to proof, and then chill overnight. Knead dough on well-floured surface and divide in half. Wrap one half in plastic wrap or place back in bowl covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another use.
- Roll out dough into a rectangle that is about ¼-inch thick. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
- Spoon cream cheese mixture onto the bottom ⅓ of the rectangle (the one closest to you). Carefully lift the dough up and over the cream cheese mixture. It will be messy, but just go with it. Press the dough with your fingers to create somewhat of a seam to hold the cream cheese mixture in. Continue to roll to the opposite end.
- Taking two spatulas or cake lifters (even two pieces of cardboard would work), lift each edge of the roll up and carefully place the log into a well-greased Bundt pan (or onto a parchment-lined baking sheet). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for about one hour, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 350° F and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Place on wire rack in Bundt pan to cool for about 10 minutes before loosening with a blunt knife around the edges. Place serving platter over top of Bundt pan and, holding both firmly, flip over onto serving platter.
- Mix glaze ingredients and pour over top of cake. Sprinkle with colored decorating sugar and serve warm.
- King cake is best served the day it's made, but can be kept covered in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat before serving. (if making any other variation that doesn't use cream cheese filling, it may be kept at room temperature).
Gluten Free King Cake was originally posted on February 25, 2019 and has been updated with new photos, a new video, and some changes to the filling and the baking method.