A gluten free King Cake recipe should let you honor your family’s tradition without sacrificing the texture and flavor you’re used to: things rice-based gluten free flours won’t let you do. My gfJules Flour, and this surprisingly simple recipe, has you covered.
But first, a little history.
The Story of King Cake
After the Twelfth Night of Christmas, this culinary tradition begins in the South that most folks only associate with Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans. Biblical tradition holds that kings visited the baby Jesus by traveling for 12 days to reach him on what we now call “Epiphany.”
Beginning at Epiphany and lasting only until Mardi Gras day, the tradition of a King Cake in the Southern United States has evolved from what was brought by European settlers in the 1700s to what we now recognize as one of the preeminent symbols of the revelry of Mardi Gras.
Today, King Cakes are used to select Mardi Gras Kings and Queens as well as to celebrate the season in households and at parties across the country.
King Cakes have many looks, the most classic being a crown shaped pastry dotted with the sugared colors of Carnival: purple, gold and green. Some have fillings, others do not, though they all house a hidden trinket like a plastic (formerly porcelain) baby.
Making a Gluten Free King Cake
Watch my how-to tutorial video on making Gluten Free King Cake!
You’ll see from the video that this cake is made by spreading the yummy cinnamon and sugar mixture down the middle of the dough.
Once the filling is distributed the length of the rolled out dough, spread across the width of the dough before rolling up like a cinnamon roll.
Then roll it up like a log (much like the process for making homemade gluten free cinnamon rolls).
Then take the ends and pull them together gently to make the ring, or crown. This process is made easy because of my award-winning gfJules Flour which adds stretch to doughs like these. Not only is the dough easy to work with, but the finished product is light and flaky, too!
Do not … I repeat, do not try this with ordinary gluten free flour blends! You will wind up with a pile of crumbly dough that makes a holy mess and will make you cry (ok, maybe I’m the only one who cries when gluten free recipes go horribly wrong, but you get the idea). There’s just no sense in wasting time, energy or excitement about a recipe only to have it fail when it’s not even your fault — it’s because of the gluten free flour! All gluten free flours are different, and recipes like this one make it painfully obvious!
You need a blend that is soft and light but strong enough to allow you to roll it out and stretch it around the fillings. That’s hard to come by. But my gfJules Flour won’t let you down. You’ll see: gluten free King Cake will be in your very delicious future!
Ok, back to the rolling. Next comes the fun part that makes this cake truly unique: the baby!
The trinket hidden inside each cake adds to its popularity, although the uninitiated often fail to recognize that finding the trinket inside your piece of cake may come not only with privileges (good fortune and/or becoming the King or Queen of the ball) but just as often with responsibilities (bringing the next cake!).
My daughter’s marraine (mah-rehn) — her Godmother, to you non-cajun-ites!) served a King Cake at my baby shower and I served King Cake at her baby shower in return. It was quite a fun tradition to celebrate!
Until creating this recipe, I was unable to enjoy anything but the tiny plastic baby trinket I found in my King Cake, as I had never had a gluten-free version. This cinnamon-roll-like creation is fast becoming a family favorite here, as the first one I made was devoured in a single evening! You’ll love it too!
See my King Cake on the CBS-Baltimore News! (click for video here)
To see a video tutorial on how-to shape and make this delicious King Cake, hop to my YouTube video!
One more note: I don’t make this cake very often (about once a year, to be exact), so my tweaks are infrequent, but those who have made it before may notice that I’ve added more liquid and reduced the bake time on the recipe this year. Just trust me. 🙂
Each time you make a gluten free King Cake it will look a little different, but none will be any less delicious!
Wishing you and yours a sweet Mardi Gras!
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1-2 Tbs. milk (dairy or non-dairy)
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract (optional)
colored sugar (purple, gold and green)
Prepare the filling by tossing the chopped apples together with the gfJules™ All Purpose Flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, melt the 4 tablespoons butter, and set both bowls aside.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar and yeast; stir and set aside to proof. If the mixture is not bubbly and doubled in volume after 5-10 minutes, toss out and start again with fresh yeast.
In a large mixing bowl, blend the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the milk and eggs and beat until well-integrated. Add only 2 cups of gfJules™ All Purpose Flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg and mix well.
Stir in the proofed yeast-sugar-water mixture, then add the remaining 1 cup gfJules™ All Purpose Flour. Beat another 1-2 minutes, until the dough is clumping together and is not too sticky.
Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a silicone pastry mat or onto a clean counter dusted lightly with gfJules™ All Purpose Flour (be sure to have enough counter space, at least 30 inches wide).
Roll the dough out to an elongated rectangle 24-30 inches long by 6-8 inches wide. Brush on the melted butter, coating the entire rectangle.
Sprinkle the filling mixture on top of the melted butter, spreading to the ends of the rectangle, but leaving 1/2-1 inch without toppings on each of the long sides of the rectangle.
Using a bench scraper or a spatula, gently peel up one of the long sides of the rectangle and begin rolling it as you would a jelly roll. Once the entire pastry is rolled upon itself until no pastry remains unrolled, a 24-30 inch long roll will remain. Gently pull the two ends of the roll together to form a circle or oval.
Dabbing the ends of the pastry with water, join the ends together to close the circle. Gently transfer the ring to the parchment-lined baking sheet, or transfer the ring on the silicone baking mat to the baking sheet.
Brush the milk on top of the exposed pastry, then using a large sharp knife, make a cut in the top of the pastry every 2 inches to expose one layer of the roll.
Spray a sheet of wax paper or parchment with cooking oil, then cover the cake and let rise in a warm spot for 20-30 minutes like a warming drawer or an oven heated to 200º F then turned off.
Preheat oven to 350º F (static) or 325º F (convection).
Remove the paper from the cake and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove to a wire rack to cool.
While cooling, mix icing ingredients and drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle colored sugar on top of wet icing, alternating colors (purple; green; yellow colored sugar) between each cut in the top of the cake.
Insert a pecan, M&M or plastic baby into the underside of the cake to hide it.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
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