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Welcome to a delightful twist on a Mardi Gras classic with our Mini King Cake recipe.

Imagine the vibrant energy of New Orleans captured in a small, yet incredibly flavorful cake. This recipe brings the essence of Mardi Gras into your kitchen, perfect for those who love the tradition but might not have a crowd to feed. Unlike the traditional king cakes that cater to eight or ten people, this mini version is ideal for a smaller gathering, ensuring everyone gets a taste of this festive treat. The cake has a unique texture, akin to a scone or a crumb coffee cake, with a subtle sweetness and a lovely hint of cinnamon.

Discover more single serving and small batch New Orleans-inspired recipes. Try our flavorful Mini Muffuletta, hearty Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice, rich Seafood Gumbo, spicy Jambalaya, and crispy Crawfish Beignets.

Why You’ll Love This King Cake Recipe

  1. Easy to Make: Straightforward and quick, perfect for all skill levels.
  2. Perfect Size: Ideal for a small gathering or a family treat.
  3. Distinctive Texture: Offers a unique, scone-like feel.
  4. Versatile: Pairs well with coffee or tea, great for any time.
  5. Festive Flair: Brings Mardi Gras spirit right to your kitchen.

What Is A King Cake?

King Cake, a circular pastry synonymous with Mardi Gras, boasts a rich history steeped in tradition. These cakes are a staple during the Carnival season, symbolizing the festivities. Historically, King Cakes resembled bread dough and were less sweet compared to modern versions. In the 1980s, a culinary evolution occurred as bakers started introducing various fillings like cream cheese, fruit, and pastry creams. Despite these innovations, many still relish the classic, unfilled King Cake, distinguished by its vibrant purple, green, and gold sugar topping. This traditional treat not only adds a colorful touch to Mardi Gras celebrations but also connects us to a longstanding culinary heritage.

An overhead view of a mini king cake topped with white drizzled icing and green, orange, and purple sugar on a cake stand surrounded by a gold cloth, mardi gras beads, and a purple and gold feather mask

Crafting The Perfect Mini King Cake: A Simplified Recipe For Smaller Gatherings

Having baked king cakes for many years, I’ve taken a fresh turn this year by creating a Mini King Cake. This smaller version is designed to serve just a few people, a delightful alternative to the traditional large cakes that cater to eight to ten people. For those interested in the larger version, don’t forget to explore my other King Cake recipe.

The process of downsizing the recipe presented its challenges. Reducing ingredients for baking is often more complex than it sounds. My goal was to develop a king cake that was not only delicious but also simple to prepare, with readily available ingredients and a quick baking time.

As a result, this Mini King Cake differs from the traditional recipe but retains all the deliciousness. The dough bears a resemblance to a scone or crumb coffee cake, rather than a soft pastry. It features a delightful cinnamon flavor with a subtle sweetness, similar to a scone.

This recipe is crafted with the vision of enjoying the Mini King Cake as a companion to your morning coffee or as an afternoon pick-me-up with tea. It’s a perfect, easy-to-make treat that brings a touch of Mardi Gras to your daily routine, ideal for smaller gatherings or a personal indulgence.

RELATED: 15 Easy Dessert Recipes For One

Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this king cake recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder.

  • Flour: Stick to all-purpose flour for this recipe; other flour types haven’t been tested.
  • Granulated Sugar: A small amount, just 3 tablespoons, is sufficient for the cake.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: These ingredients help the cake rise.
  • Cinnamon & Salt: Added for their enriching flavors.
  • Butter: Cold salted butter is preferred.
  • Egg Yolk: Only one egg yolk is required. Hang on to the egg white to use in one of our egg white recipes like Meringues, a small White Cake, or Two Chocolate Cupcakes.
  • Milk: Any kind of cow’s milk or plant-based milk like almond or soy works well, adding moisture to the cake.
  • Orange Juice & Orange Zest: They infuse the cake with a delightful citrus flavor. If you’ve got extra orange juice consider using it a small batch of Morning Glory Muffins or in a mini Orange Oatmeal Cake.
  • Confectioners’ Sugar & Milk/Cream: These combine to create the glaze.
  • Granulated Sugar & Food Coloring: Use purple, green, and yellow colors to make the Mardi Gras-themed sugar topping.

Recipe Variations

Experiment with these variations to add a twist to the classic king cake:

  • Nutty Delight: Mix in a handful of chopped pecans or walnuts for an added crunch.
  • Citrus Twist: Replace orange zest with lemon zest in the dough for a refreshing lemon flavor.
  • Chocolate Surprise: Stir in a handful of chocolate chips for a sweet, chocolaty touch.
  • Vegan-Friendly: Use plant-based substitutes for dairy and egg to cater to vegan preferences.
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RELATED: 20 Single Serving Meatless Meals

How To Make A King Cake

These step-by-step photos and instructions help you visualize how to make a small king cake. See the recipe below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

Step 1: Preparing the Dough

  1. Combine Dry Ingredients: In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, sugar, and cinnamon.
  2. Incorporate Butter: Cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  3. Mix Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolk, milk, orange juice, and orange zest.
  4. Combine Mixtures: Gently add the liquid mix to the flour blend, stirring until just combined.

Step 2: Shaping and Baking the King Cake

  1. Prepare Dough: Begin by kneading the dough lightly on a floured surface.
  2. Shape Dough: Shape the dough into a circle, adding more flour if it’s sticky.
  3. Roll and Shape: Roll the dough into a long strip and then form it into a circle, pressing the ends together.
  4. Bake: Place on a baking sheet and bake at a preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes until golden.
four photos showing the steps to make a king cake

Step 3: Creating the Icing and Colored Sugar

  1. Make Icing: Whisk together confectioner’s sugar and milk in a bowl. Drizzle over the cooled King Cake.
  2. Prepare Colored Sugar: Divide granulated sugar into three bowls. Add drops of purple, green, and yellow food coloring to each. Sprinkle the colored sugars over the icing for a festive Mardi Gras look.
A slice of king cake topped with white icing and purple, green, and orange sugar

Expert Tips

  • Embrace the Texture: Keep in mind that this is a scone-like king cake, so expect a texture that’s different from traditional king cakes.
  • Use Cold Ingredients: For the best results, ensure your ingredients, especially butter, are cold.
  • Handle Dough Gently: Avoid overworking the dough to maintain its tender quality.
  • Dough Consistency: The dough should be moist but not sticky. Adjust with a bit more flour or liquid as needed.
  • Glaze Thickness: For a thicker glaze, add more powdered sugar. For a thinner glaze, add more milk or cream.
  • Versatile Decorating: Tailor the sugar colors for different holidays – red or pink for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day, or red and green for Christmas.

How To Serve A King Cake

Enjoy this Mini King Cake as a part of your Mardi Gras celebration, or simply as a delightful treat. It pairs wonderfully with:

  • Coffee: Enhance your morning with this cake and a cup of rich coffee.
  • Tea: A light afternoon tea complements the cake’s subtle flavors.
  • Ambrosia: Serve with a fresh fruit salad or Ambrosia for a refreshing contrast.
  • Vanilla Ice Cream: For a decadent treat, accompany it with a scoop of ice cream.
  • Hot Chocolate: A cozy pairing for colder days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make gluten-free king cake?

Yes, by using gluten-free 1:1 flour. My go-to brand is King Arthur Gluten Free Measure For Measure Flour.

Can I add fillings to this king cake?

This recipe is best as is, due to its scone-like texture.

How long will a king cake stay fresh?

It’s best enjoyed within 2 days.

What if I don’t have food coloring for the king cake topping?

Colored sprinkles are a great alternative.

When does Mardi Gras season start?

Mardi Gras season begins on January 6th, marking the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night. This date signifies the start of the festive Mardi Gras celebrations.

What is the significance of the king cake baby?

In king cake tradition, a small plastic baby is hidden inside the cake. The person who finds the baby in their slice is expected to host the next Mardi Gras gathering. If you’re unable to find a plastic baby, using a large pecan as a substitute is a common alternative, or you can choose to omit it entirely.

What are the meanings of the Mardi Gras colors?

The colors of Mardi Gras each hold a special meaning: purple represents justice, green stands for faith, and gold signifies power. These colors are a vibrant part of Mardi Gras decorations and attire, reflecting the spirit and traditions of the celebration.

RELATED: 15 Single Serving Breakfast Recipes Worth Waking Up To

Explore More Single Serving New Orleans-Inspired Recipes

  • Red Beans and Rice: A classic New Orleans dish perfectly portioned for one.
  • Shrimp Creole: Enjoy the rich flavors of this Creole favorite, made just for you.
  • Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya: A hearty, single serving of this spicy and savory Louisiana staple.
  • Crawfish Beignets: A scaled-down recipe for these delightful, crawfish-filled treats.
  • Crawfish Pasta: Savor the unique taste of New Orleans with this single serving pasta dish.
  • Gumbo: Dive into the deep flavors of New Orleans with a gumbo portioned for one.
  • Crawfish Étouffée: A personal serving of this rich, flavorful Louisiana classic.
  • Pralines: Capture the essence of New Orleans sweets with these irresistible pralines, perfect for a small batch treat.
  • Shrimp Étouffée: Experience the rich and savory flavors of New Orleans with this single serving Shrimp Étouffée, a true Creole delight.

Discover Delightful Mini Cake Recipes

For those who enjoy the charm of our Mini King Cake, here’s a selection of other small cake recipes that are sure to delight:

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

For more information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

If you’ve tried this mini king cake recipe or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

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Mini King Cake

4.77 from 13 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Cool: 10 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Celebrate Mardi Gras with this Mini King Cake recipe. A perfectly sweet, festive, tender and delicious king cake drizzled with icing and topped with colored sugar. Easy to make and the perfect size for serving one or two people.

Ingredients 
 

For the king cake

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup salted butter , cold (4 tablespoons)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest

For the glaze

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons milk or cream

For the colored sugar

  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1-2 drops purple, green, and yellow food coloring

Instructions 

  • Heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C)

Prepare the king cake dough

  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, ground cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
  • Using a pastry blender or your hands, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, milk, orange juice, and orange zest.
    Pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Shaping and baking the king cake

  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead very lightly and form a circle. Add a little more flour to the dough if the dough becomes too sticky to handle.
    King Cake | One Dish Kitchen
  • Roll the dough out so that it forms one long piece of dough.
    King Cake Dough | One Dish Kitchen
  • Shape the dough into a circle and gently press the edges of the circle together.
    King Cake | One Dish Kitchen
  • Place the dough on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden.
    Mini King Cake | One Dish Kitchen

Make the icing and colored sugar

  • Whisk together confectioners' sugar and milk in a bowl. Drizzle over the cooled king cake.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of the sugar into three small bowls. 
    Add in 1 to 2 drops of the food coloring in each bowl. Make a separate bowl for the purple, the green, and the gold sugars.
    Spoon a little of each of the the colored sugars over the icing.

Notes

  • Embrace the Texture: Keep in mind that this is a scone-like king cake, so expect a texture that’s different from traditional king cakes.
  • Use Cold Ingredients: For the best results, ensure your ingredients, especially butter, are cold.
  • Handle Dough Gently: Avoid overworking the dough to maintain its tender quality.
  • Dough Consistency: The dough should be moist but not sticky. Adjust with a bit more flour or liquid as needed.
  • Glaze Thickness: For a thicker glaze, add more powdered sugar. For a thinner glaze, add more milk or cream.
  • Versatile Decorating: Tailor the sugar colors for different holidays – red or pink for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day, or red and green for Christmas.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 335kcal, Carbohydrates: 50g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 77mg, Sodium: 295mg, Potassium: 172mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 25g, Vitamin A: 465IU, Vitamin C: 2.5mg, Calcium: 92mg, Iron: 1.7mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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14 Comments

  1. I am dying to try this recipe but cannot abide with anything orange flavored
    (particularly zest)
    Is there anything I can sub for the juice/zest?
    Thanks so much
    (LOVE your blog)

    1. Thank you! Although I haven’t tried using anything other than orange juice/zest in this recipe, I would think lemon juice, grapefruit juice, or even apple juice would be great substitutions.

      1. Hi Joanie,
        In response to her question, is the finished texture of this cake “dunk-able”, perhaps? I’m thinking, maybe leave off the icing and dunking individual slices into a cream cheese fruit dip… if it’s just the taste preference she’s after.
        Thoughts?
        Interested to see your response.

  2. I made four of these to give to other people. I did have to add more flour to be able to knead the dough, it was very wet. I also had to thicken up the glaze quite a bit for it to be like the picture on your blog which is much prettier than the first one I did with the thinner glaze. I rechecked my measurements and actually made two separate batches because I wasn’t sure if I was going to make two or four. It was the same both times. But with the extra flour and powdered sugar for the glaze I am glad I made them. Thanks!

  3. I agree if you haven’t DONE Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you need to move it to the top of your bucket list.

    1. We were planning to visit during Mardi Gras and the lady who was
      the owner of a lovely bed and breakfast in the French Quarter
      warned us to stay away until after Mardi Gras
      “It is no place for 2 young
      ladies”
      Later another owner of a bed and breakfast in the Garden
      District repeated same
      We visited a week later.
      (((((Loved))))) our visit and another later to New Orleans and don’t
      regret I missed what I saw later in YouTubes in the
      French Quarter during the festivities.

  4. Another winner! It was the perfect finish to your Jambalaya recipe. I would for go the colored sugar next time….making them was a bit fussy for me but a sprinkle of raw sugar would work well. It has wonderful flavor and was really good with our morning coffee. Thank you again!
    MK

    1. I’m so happy you enjoyed the King Cake and the Jambalaya recipes! Thank you so much for letting me know.