Lisa White's King Cake Recipe

Try this caramelized twist on the traditional king cake!

King Cake recipe from Willa Jean restaurant in New Orleans

Dive into this king cake made with a marscapone cheese filling and praline sauce.

Lisa White's King Cake Recipe

Traditional king cakes are a seasonal slice of paradise with buttery pastry dough, sweet and tangy cream cheese, cinnamon swirls and fruity fillings. In early January, you’ll begin to see King Cakes decorated in purple, green and yellow in bakery and restaurant storefronts. This is a signal to all Louisianians that Mardi Gras is around the corner and it’s time to prepare for the celebration.

While a traditional king cake is expected at a Mardi Gras event, a non-traditional king cake with a mascarpone spread, praline glaze and banana caramel filling will be a welcomed surprise! 

Bake this insanely tasty recipe, courtesy of Lisa White, a former pastry chef of  Willa Jean Bakery in New Orleans, and you may be asked to bring all the king cakes for Mardi Gras.

Ingredients for King Cake:

  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest, divided
  • 1 cup warm whole milk (about 95 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry yeast
  • 3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1 3/4 cups salted caramel sauce, divided
  • 3 fresh bananas sliced diagonally
  • Mascarpone filling (recipe follows)
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans Praline Glaze (recipe follows)
  • 2 to 3 sheets edible gold leaf

Method of Preparation:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add brown sugar, butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon orange zest. Beat until combined and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, place warm milk; add sugar, yeast and a heaping tablespoon of the flour, and whisk until both the sugar and yeast are dissolved. Let stand until foamy. Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and remaining 1 teaspoon orange zest.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine nutmeg, remaining flour and remaining 3 teaspoons of cinnamon; fold flour mixture in the milk mixture with a large rubber spatula. After the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, shape it into a large ball. Knead the dough on a well-floured surface until it is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
  4. Return dough to bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, set aside in a draft-free place to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Punch dough down, and roll dough out to a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle (about 20x20-inches); lightly spread with reserved brown sugar mixture may be refrigerated and used for another purpose.
  6. Roll up long side of dough as tightly as possible, like a cinnamon roll, and pinch ends closed. Shape it into an oval shape and tuck the ends under each other. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and spray lightly with cooking spray. Place dough on prepared baking sheet, and let rise until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Slice, allowing 1/3 of the cake for the top and 2/3 of the cake for the bottom. Spread 1 1/2 cups salted caramel sauce on bottom half, from edge to edge.
  8. Top with banana, and drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup salted caramel. Fill a resealable 1-quart plastic bag with mascarpone filling. Cut off a corner, and pipe it into the salted caramel, and add pecans. Top with remaining cake and press lightly.
  9. Place cake on a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Using a ladle, slowly pour Praline Glaze over cake. Using a paring knife, transfer the gold leaf in several pieces to the top of the cake.

Ingredients for Mascarpone Filling:

  • 1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened and at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Method of Preparation:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add cream cheese; beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add mascarpone, and mix until smooth. Scrape down sides once again. Add salt and sugar and mix until combined. Add lemon juice to taste and mix until combined. Refrigerate until stiff.

Praline Glaze

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup praline liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons molasses

Method of Preparation:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook until the sugar is melted and mixture is bubbly, but do not stir too much. Slowly add cream and whisk until thoroughly combined. Be careful — the mixture may splatter. Whisk in praline liqueur and molasses. When mixture is ready, it will have a velvety sheen. Keep warm until using.

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