Gluten Free King Cake Recipe

gluten free king cake with beads and baby

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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.

gfJules Gluten Free King Cake overhead (1)

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.”

gluten free king cake close up - gfJules

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.

gfJules gluten free king cake side

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.

gfJules gluten free king cake CU

Check out all the other fun gluten-free foods you can make to celebrate during Mardi Gras!

Making a 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.

 

gfJules gluten free king cake 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!

gluten free king cake shaped - gfJules

 

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!

Keri W's gluten free King Cake made with gfJules Flour
Keri W’s gluten free King Cake made with gfJules Flour.

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!

gfJules gluten free king cake wide

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 or hosting the next party!).

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!

wjz-mardi-gras
My gluten-free King Cake was the hit of CBS-Baltimore!

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-brioche-like creation is fast becoming a family favorite here, as the first one I made was devoured in a single evening! I know you’ll love it too!

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. 🙂

gfJules gluten free king cake overhead
Each time you make a gluten free King Cake it will look a little different, but none will be any less delicious!

If you make this gluten free King Cake Recipe, please share a comment or even a photo below! Please also take a sec to rate it 5 stars if you love it, too!!

Gluten Free King Cake Recipe

Yield: 1 cake

Gluten Free King Cake Recipe

Gluten Free King Cake Recipe

Gluten Free King Cake is a tradition that shouldn't be missed. This yeasty, cinnamon-y, sweet roll is nearly as pretty as it is delicious!

Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 F)
  • 1 Tbs. granulated cane sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. (1 packet) highly active, dry yeast (e.g. Fleishmann's® or Red Star® Gluten-Free Yeast)
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter or non-dairy alternative (e.g. Earth Balance® Buttery Sticks)
  • 3 Tbs. granulated cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature) or egg substitute like flaxseed meal and water (see my article on vegan egg replacers)
  • 3 cups (405 gr) gfJules® All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (1/4 tsp. salt if using salted butter or vegan butter)
  • 2 Tbs. milk (dairy or non-dairy) for brushing on pastry before baking

Filling Ingredients:

Icing Ingredients:

  • 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)

Instructions

Gluten Free King Cake Filling

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.

Gluten Free King Cake Dough

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 warm 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 slowly 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. The dough should not be dry. If the dough is dry, read this article on measuring flour properly, as you may have added too much flour and you will need to add more milk to compensate at this point (if it is very dry, add 1 mixed egg or start with 1 egg white to the dough instead of adding milk).

Preparing the Gluten Free King Cake

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. (see photos above recipe card)

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 parchment with cooking oil, then cover the cake and let rise in a warm spot for 20-30 minutes like an 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. DO NOT OVERBAKE.

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.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment (and maybe even a picture!) below or share a photo on Instagram! Be sure to tag me! @gfJules

Wishing you and yours a sweet Mardi Gras!
Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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Gluten Free & Dairy Free King Cake for Mardi Gras gfJules

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GF King Cake PIN

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  1. This sounded so exciting! I really wanted to try this customary King’s Cake! However, I have allergies to nightshades as well as gluten. I noticed that your all purpose flour is made with potato starch. Do you happen to have anything for those of us with a double allergy?

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle, do you have my book, Free for All Cooking? In it, I give homemade flour blend recipes for successful baking without gluten or nightshades. I’d recommend checking that out and then using recipes like this one for King Cake!

      Reply
    • How wonderful, Chris! Thanks so much for letting me know! I’m so glad you didn’t give up and now you have delicious King Cake back in your life! :)

      Reply
  2. Jules, when I read all these rave reviews and saw your lovely photos, I knew I had to feature your cake in my roundup at All Gluten-Free Desserts! (The beautiful masks from Mardi Gras are my fave, so I love that you included one with your cake!) I’m ready for spring and Mardi Gras. Laissez les bon temps rouler indeed!

    xo,
    Shirley

    Reply
    • Yes Shirley, bring on spring!!! I love Mardi Gras, and all foods related to it! Thanks for featuring my King Cake on All Gluten-Free Desserts, my friend!

      Reply
    • I’ve just wrapped it tightly and stored at room temperature. If you find it is not soft enough, you can quickly microwave it the next day, but it should be good for a day or two, at least. Enjoy!

      Reply
  3. Well, this was interesting. I find that often gluten free doughs are very fragile but I stumbled upon a way to make it easier to work with. As I was out of chicken eggs, I used 1 extremely large duck egg (a friend has a flock). This made the dough stiffer and easier to work with. Also, I dusted the parchment paper with flour, rolled (pressed actually) the dough out on it, trimmed it, and then lifted one end and used it to roll the dough onto itself. Once it was formed, I just lifted the dough and parchment together onto the baking sheet and voila! I’ve also made this with the cream cheese filling. When I do that. I actually form the ring, then overturn a very large, greased Pyrex casserole dish over it and then flip the cake into the dish to cook. That way, there are no cream cheese explosions. Thanks Jules!

    Reply
  4. Loved the king cake! I was so happy that my two girls could enjoy this treat again! I made it twice, once with your flour and once without. It was much, much better with your flour! I am from New Orleans so I know what I am talking about. My daughter informed me that I cant wait a whole year before I make it again!

    Reply
    • Carol – I am so happy that your family has been loving this recipe!!! And very cool that you tried the recipe with another flour and that you had better results with mine! Woot woot! ;) Laissez les bon temps rouler!

      Reply
  5. I made this yesterday for my Celiac group meeting and they gobbled it up! Everyone was raving about how wonderful it was. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Hi! I attempted this recipe this morning and my dough was very dry, I couldn’t roll it. Can I use water or milk (this was my test run, I have another to make tomorrow!) To make the dough more pliable?

    Thanks Jules! I have 4 bags of your flour at my house so I love these recipes (especially this one, being the Tulane Alumna I am!)

    Reply
    • Hi Brie – I’m sorry the dough was dry for you. Absolutely, you can use water or milk – dairy or non-dairy – (preferred) to get the dough where you need it to be. Hopefully round two will work out great for you! Happy Mardi Gras! :)

      Reply
  7. Hi Jules! I love your flour and every recipe of yours that I try always turns out just wonderful. Can’t wait to try this one soon, as soon I get over the bronchitis I have that is. In your directions, you state to use the melted butter for the TOPPING, to be brushed on the dough once it is rolled out into a rectangle. Do you mean the butter for the FILLING? I was a little confused at first! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Karen – so sorry you’re feeling bad! Bronchitis is NO fun! Hope you’re feeling up to many things soon, including making this recipe! :)
      I’ll go back and look at the recipe – topping and filling are the same thing, but you make a good point, I’ll change to make the term the same so there’s no confusion. Thanks for pointing that out! :)

      Reply
  8. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe! I was only diagnosed 2 years ago and I miss so many things, this being one of them. From the comments about all of your recipes they seem wonderful. Thank you for making our lives tastier!

    Reply
    • Sherri – so glad you’re ready to start experimenting and bringing old favorites back into your new gluten-free life! Happy I can help with good recipes! Enjoy this one!!! :)

      Reply
  9. Hi Jules:

    I just used this recipe for a project with my kids and it was very tasty and turned out really cute! Love your blog.

    Warm regards,
    Heather

    Reply
    • Ashley, Bob’s gluten-free flour is quite different from my blend. For starters, it doesn’t contain any binding agents to hold the final product together (like xanthan gum) and it is made with bean flours that can leave a funky aftertaste in delicate baked goods like this cake. You could use it in this recipe if you added your own xanthan gum, but it still wouldn’t come out looking or tasting just like this one. If you want to read more about my flour, click here! It allows you to make a regular wheat flour recipe without having to add expensive gums and without leaving any aftertaste or grit. I hope you get to make this cake – it’s so fun!

      Reply
    • Ashley, Once you use Jule’s flour, you will never use Bob’s red Mill again. You use it in any recipe the same as wheat flour and the taste is unbelievable!

      Reply
  10. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’m a new orleanian that’s moved out of state. I’ve been making king cakes myself since I moved away, but have never really been all that pleased with my cakes. now I have a newborn that’s lactose intolerant so I was seeking a dairy free recipe and found yours. I just made it to kick off the 2012 season and am so impressed! I think it’s my best cake yet! So happy!

    Reply
    • Andrea that’s fantastic! So glad you loved the recipe and that it suited you New Orleans roots & your family’s dietary needs!!!

      Reply
  11. Your recipe looks and sounds delicious (and perfect for me to make to send for my son and a classmate with food allergies. Could Ener-G Egg Substitute be used in your recipe in place of the Eggs? Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Becki – my apologies, somehow I missed seeing your question! Regarding the eggs, in this recipe I think I would prefer using the flaxseed meal + water egg sub instead of Ener-G. I tend to love Ener-G in cookies, but not so much in cakes or breads. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  12. This was a delicious recipe. I was quite surprised how easy the dough was to work with and didn’t take very long at all to make this gem. Another keeper! Thanks so much! :)

    Reply
    • So glad you loved it! King Cake just looks hard (which is half the fun!), but even if you mess it up a bit, you just cover it with glaze and sanding sugar so no one can tell! ; )

      Reply
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