King Cake Donuts (aka Mini King Cakes)
I had never even heard of King Cake until I went college. If you live on the West coast and have never been remotely near the South during Mardi Gras, you may not have either.
Everything I know about King Cake I learned from my college roommate who was from Louisiana. For her first Mardi Gras, her mom sent her a King Cake all the way from Baton Rouge. From that point on, I knew you can't celebrate Mardi Gras without one of these cakes.
Although, I wouldn't classify it as a cake. It's a light enriched dough that is filled with a cinnamon-sugar filling formed into a giant ring. Sound familiar? It's almost like a giant cinnamon roll formed into a donut.
Which sounds to me like it's just begging to be made into a mini King Cake donuts!
How to Make Them
I made this super handy video of me making these King Cake Donuts so that I wouldn't drown you in the wordy explanation of the process. It's so much easier to watch!
Things to Know
Even though I didn't want to inundate you with words, there are a couple things that are important to know about making these donuts.
The first step to making these King Cakes is to make the dough. And like most bread doughs, this one starts with yeast.
Yeast can be a little tricky if you aren't familiar with it. So here are three things I want you to remember about yeast:
- It is a living thing, so it can go bad very quickly. Make sure your yeast is fresh by keeping it in the freezer and abiding by the expiration dates.
- It also loves sugar! Always add sugar to your yeast so that it has something to feed off of which creates that foaminess.
- But it doesn't do well in heat. When you mix together your liquid, sugar, and yeast, your liquid should lukewarm and never be more than 110 degrees F.
Ideally, after 10 minutes, your yeast should have "bloomed" and look something like this:
See how nice and fluffy? If it doesn't look like this either your yeast is bad or the liquid was too hot. But there is no need to fret, just try it again!
Once you mix the yeast with all the other dough ingredients, you will have a very loose shaggy dough like you saw in the video. While you can let your stand mixer to the work and knead in the dough, sometimes it's very therapeutic to knead the dough by hand.
You will know the dough is ready when it forms a ball and no longer sticks to your hands or the counter.
Let the dough rise in an oiled bowl covered with a bit of plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. If it's cold in your neck of the woods, it may take longer for the dough to rise.
You can use my favorite trick when I am in a hurry and want my dough to rise faster.
Turn your oven on to it's lowest temperature (ideally less than 200 degrees F). Once it's up to temperature, turn the oven off and place your bowl of dough in there to rise. It will have doubled in size in no time!
Once you are ready to make your individual cakes, you have a couple of choices. You can make one big King Cake or you can make the donut version. If you choose to make the King Cake donuts it does not mean you need a donut pan. It just helps them keep their shape.
You can easily form them into small rings and place them on a baking sheet as is.
And now you know everything you need to know to make perfect and delicious King Cake donuts (or a full-size King Cake if you so choose!). Remember, you can't celebrate Mardi Gras without them!
Prep Time: 30 min Cook Time: 20 min Total Time: 50 min
Makes 1 large king cake or 6 small king cakes
- 1/2 cup lukewarm whole milk (approx 100-110 degrees)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon dry active yeast
- 1/2 cup melted butter, unsalted
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- sanding sugar in gold, purple, and green
- In a small bowl, stir together milk, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, or until a foam has formed on the top.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast mixture, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Attach the dough hook and stir for a minute to combine.
- Meanwhile mix salt into flour. Gradually add 1 3/4 cup flour mixture to the liquid mixture. Mix until a loose, shaggy dough has formed. About 5 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a clean surface dusted with flour. Sprinkle some of the remaining flour over the dough and begin to knead the dough.
- Keep adding flour until it has all been incorporated and the dough has formed a smooth ball.
- Place ball into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot and let rise until doubled in size. About 1-2 hours.
- In a small bowl, combine all the filling ingredients, then set aside. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle. Cut into 6 equal sized pieces. Roll each individual piece of dough out until its about 10 inches long and 4 inches wide. Spread about 1 tbsp of filling on the dough. Roll into a long tube, then bring the ends to each other. Pinch the ends together to form a ring. Place in a donut pan. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
- Cover the rings of dough with a sheet of plastic wrap, and let rise until almost doubled in size. About 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375. Remove plastic wrap and bake the king cakes for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
- Once removed from the oven, let cool slightly. Mix together the confectioners sugar and the water until it forms a thin icing. Spoon over the warm cakes and then immediately dust with the colored sanding sugar.