This easy King Cake recipe uses Grands cinnamon rolls to make perfect mini king cakes- puffy enough to hide the King Cake baby inside!
Easy King Cake Recipe
Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras) – and is traditionally the last day to party it up before the season of Lent begins. Many people celebrate Mardi Gras with a King Cake, which is a cinnamony pastry-like cake that hides a baby inside. Whoever ends up with a slice of cake that contains the baby is said to have good luck throughout the year (or is supposed to make the King Cake the following year).
But here's the thing you guys…. I looked up several recipes for making King Cakes and many of them are VERY time consuming. (I'm looking at you allrecipes…)
You're doing some real baking, with two rounds of dough rising and all sorts of other hoops to jump through. If you're looking for the fast and easy way to have King Cake with the family – think of this as a cheaters version!
(Native Louisianians will be appalled…. so you might want to look away!)
Cinnamon Roll Mini King Cakes
What is King Cake?
A King Cake is usually a pastry shaped into a circle (to represent a King's crown) with a filling made of cinnamon and cream cheese or cinnamon and brown sugar. Often nuts and raisins are folded into that filling. Slits are made in the sides and a baby figurine is tucked inside. (For the full King cake meaning, including the shape, baby and three colors – scroll past the recipe.)
Although it's far from the real article, using a cinnamon roll for this recipe is not far off from the general idea. And if you use the Grands! Deluxe – which comes with extra puffy dough and extra-decadent buttery icing – they really do taste delicious!
How to Make Mini King Cakes
- Grands Deluxe Cinnamon Rolls (you HAVE to have the kind of cinnamon roll you can unroll!)
- Colored Sugar in Green, Yellow and Purple
- Plastic Babies (a 6pk at Walmart is only $1.50)
Please forgive the quality of these pictures – my hubby and I made these together on Valentine's night for a “date night in” – and the lighting was pretty bad in my kitchen!
1 . Separate the cinnamon rolls out of the tube and set aside the frosting for later. You definitely need the kinds of cinnamon rolls that you can unroll to be able to twist them into a crown!
2 . Unroll the cinnamon roll all the way, and then fold in half vertically. Try not to let too much of the cinnamon-sugar filling fall off in the process if possible 🙂
3 . Holding both ends, twist the cinnamon roll to desired twistiness. The tighter it's twisted, the skinnier your final ring will be. The looser the twist, the puffier it can get.
4 . Form the cinnamon roll twist into a circle and pinch the ends together the best you can (they'll be buttery). If you can't get them to pinch together, sort of twist them together.
5 . Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes or the tops are golden.
6 . Choose one mini king cake (I picked the puffiest one) and turn it over. Hide the baby Jesus figurine into one of the pastry folds. If you don't have baby figurines – some people hide a coin or dry bean inside. Get creative!
7 . While still warm, spoon icing over each ring. (You might want to zap it in the microwave for a few seconds to get it more liquidy. Just don't make it too liquidy becaues it will soak right into the cinnamon roll instead of making a glaze on top.) Before the glaze can harden, sprinkle on the three colored sugars in purple, yellow and green.
King Cake Meaning:
What does the baby in the King Cake mean?
The baby respresents the baby Jesus, who the wise men journeyed to honor. The “search” for the baby Jesus in the King Cake continues through this tradition. Whoever gets the baby is said to either a) have good luck in the new year or b) have the honor of making next year's King Cake – or hosting next year's Three King's Feast. Or both!
What do the colors on a King Cake mean?
The sprinkled sugars or colored icings aren't just Mardi Gras colors – they have symbolism too!
- Gold = Power
- Green = Faith
- Purple = Justice
These colors don't necessarily have their root in religious tradition – but were instead decided upon by one of the first Mardi Gras kings. The colors he chose stuck and are now the official colors of Mardi Gras.
What does the shape of a King Cake mean?
The dough is shaped into a circle or oval to symbolize a King's crown. Both for the three magi who travelled from distant lands, and for the King they sought to find.
When Do You Eat King Cake?
King Cake is supposed to be eaten on January 6th, which is Ephiphany – or the Feast of the Three Kings.
It's the celebration of when the Three Wise Men (all foreign kings) visited the baby Jesus after his birth and honored him with gifts.
However it's also a very popular treat on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday! The day before Lent is time when people usually feast before they fast. In earlier times, families would get rid of all the eggs, milk, sugar and butter in the house by making cakes (and in many cases pancakes). These were considered “rich foods” and many people fast from those during Lent.
More Recipes You Might Like:
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake (Perfect for ANY Celebration!)
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