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!
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. 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!
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 give you two options for both the filling and the way the king cake is shaped and baked.
here’s what you’ll need to make cream cheese pecan praline king cake
- Gluten free sweet dough–the champion of champs, this gluten free sweet dough can make over 30 (yes, 30! and counting!)
- Cream cheese–this particular recipe calls for cream cheese in the filling. There are so many different ways to make a king cake, so check out the variations below for more!
- Brown sugar–this is what makes that praline flavor that NOLA is famous for.
EASY STEPS FOR MAKING GLUTEN FREE BRAIDED KING CAKE
This gluten free King cake begins with one of my favorite versatile doughs, my gluten free sweet dough. For the Bundt pan variation, see the recipe card below.
- 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. (Search sweet dough for more recipes)
- Roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle that’s roughly 14 inches by 12 inches. Cut in half lengthwise so you have two pieces that are about 14 by 6. Spread each half with cream cheese mixture.
- Roll up each piece like you would a cinnamon roll. Place each piece on a parchment-lined baking sheet and gently braid them together. Form it into the best circle you can.
- Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until doubled in size.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool for about 10 minutes before moving to a serving plate or platter.
- Mix together glaze ingredients and spoon or 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 strawberry filling, spread strawberry jam over dough before rolling.
- For a strawberry cream cheese filling, spread cream cheese mixture over dough and then carefully add strawberry jam over top before rolling up.
more mardi gras recipes
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
CREAM CHEESE FILLING with cinnamon sugar dusting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
cinnamon sugar dusting:
- 4 tbsp (56 g) butter, very soft
- ¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
PRALINE PECAN CREAM CHEESE FILLING:
- 1 8 oz (226g) cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup (50g) brown sugar
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125g) finely chopped toasted pecans
- ½ large egg (beat an egg in a small bowl and separate into two bowls–half is for filling and the other half will be for an egg wash)
- 1½ cups (180g) powdered sugar
- 1½ tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1-3 tbsp milk
- colored sanding sugar
- Make the dough according to recipe instructions and allow to bulk 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.
- Make your choice of filling by beating the cream cheese with the rest of the ingredients. It's okay if there are still a little lumps in the cream cheese mixture.
FOR BUNDT PAN METHOD:
- Roll out dough into a rectangle that is about ¼-inch thick, 14 by 12 inches. 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.
FOR BRAID METHOD
- cut the dough in half lengthwise to create two 14 by 6-inch pieces. Spread praline pecan filling over each to within ½-inch of the long edges. Roll up each piece like you would a cinnamon roll or jelly roll. Pinch bottom together to seal and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Braid the two pieces together. It's okay if some of the filling begins showing through. Curve the braid into a wreath shape, pinching the ends to seal together. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area until nearly doubled in size, 30 minutes to an hour (or longer if your kitchen is cold).
- Brush the risen king cake with the leftover beaten egg.
- Preheat oven to 350° F and bake either king cake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
- If you made your king cake in a Bundt pan, 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 together and dollop over top of the cake. Spread as necessary with an angled spatula. Sprinkle with colored decorating sugar and serve warm.
SERVE AND STORE
- 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. (Reheats nicely in the microwave at 20-30 seconds). 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 a new braiding method and praline filling.
Praline filling adapted from Southern Living
11 thoughts on “Gluten Free King Cake”
What a spectacular cake! I made the praline version, although I realized at the last minute I was out of pecans so I used hazelnuts instead and they were perfect. Transferring the dough to the bundt pan was a disaster despite my efforts. It totally fell apart into a soupy mess and I had to scoop it up in handfuls to get it into the pan. I was worried the whole thing would just come out a pile of goo, but it baked perfectly! The filling wasn’t evenly distributed but it tasted amazing and we gobbled up the cake in less than 24 hours. (I was wondering if you’ve ever tried just spreading half the dough in the bottom of the pan, adding the filling, and then topping with the rest of the dough? Seems like it might work better than trying to roll this one.) I’ll definitely be making this again next year!
I had to come back and let you know I tried my suggestion about spreading batter instead of rolling it! I had made the full batch of dough, but since the king cake only needed half, I had dough left. I was going to make cinnamon rolls but I was just burnt out today and couldn’t handle making the rolls, and the dough needed to get used. So I decided to spread the part of the dough in the bundt pan and top with Aldi’s fried apples from a can, then spread more dough on top as best I could. (I did drain the apples first.) I was going to do the regular glaze but again, I just couldn’t handle a simple task today, so I found a jar of caramel sauce in the pantry and drizzled that on top. It was perfection! In hindsight I do think it could have used a bit more fruit, and I wish I had sprinkled on some cinnamon sugar, but for virtually no effort it was amazing I think you could easily do this with other pie fillings or even fresh fruit. This is my new foolproof way of making a coffee cake-type thing from now on. THANK YOU!
Oooooh, this sounds AMAZING!!!!!! I need to try that one of these days!! Thanks, Jen!
Hi, Jen! When I first made this recipe, I didn’t think of that, but if you watch my new video for this, you’ll see that I kinda figured that out a little bit, haha! Unfortunately, my new video won’t fit on my website, so if you want to see it, check it out on my youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddogJ4iMqgY&t=48s
Being from Louisiana and beyond missing King Cake during Mardi Gras season…, this is off the chart yummy!!! I have made this several times for me and my GF friends and it is always a hit! Ty for sharing this!!
Absolutely delicious! When my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, we had to give up so many delicious treats. I swear this king cake does not taste gluten free. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe. We are planning to make cinnamon rolls with the left over dough. I can’t wait!!!
Awe, yay!! So thrilled you enjoyed it 😍😍😍
I made this with a praline filling and it was so good. Le bon temps roulet! I love king cake! I ordered a GF cake from a bakery in Metairie few years ago. It cost a fortune to ship and wasn’t authentic at all. This recipe is as good as the real deal and my non GF husband agrees!
Thanks so much, Helen 😍
This is a beautiful cake! You amaze me with your baking skills!
Thank you do much, Vickie! You are too kind 😄