I kind of have to preface this post by saying that this is not much like a traditional king cake. But it IS easier and faster. And delicious. It might make NOLA peeps upset, but sometimes you just need an easy king cake recipe that bucks tradition a bit.
An alternative king cake, if you will.
Listen, a real king cake is awesome (and I’ve got one coming your way). But it’s a lot of work to make, and a lot of store-bought ones are just NOT GREAT. I don’t celebrate Mardi Gras or know tons about it, but I’ve always loved the flavor profile and textures of a really good king cake.
So when Joy the Baker (a New Orleans-ite and king cake connoisseur herself) offered up this one-bowl easy king cake recipe that’s…actually more like a cake…I was intrigued.
So first, a confession…I kind of cheat on this and make it a two-bowl cake, though you can absolutely mix up the batter in your cake pan. I’m just a super messy stir-er though, and didn’t want to make a huge mess. You can then use the same bowl for your cinnamon-sugar mixture and icing if you want.
Grease an 8-inch round cake pan with butter or non-stick spray. If you’re combining the ingredients in a separate bowl, then it doesn’t hurt to put a round of parchment paper down as well.
Either in your cake pan or (as I did it, in a large mixing bowl), add the dry ingredients including the yeast and stir to combine.
Add the milk, melted butter, oil, and beaten egg. Whisk to combine, making sure not to leave pockets of flour (though don’t overmix).
Transfer the batter to your cake pan if it is in a bowl, and allow to batter to rest in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
While the cake rests, make the cinnamon topping. In a small bowl stir together brown sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, and salt until the mixture is moistened.
Once the batter has rested, top the batter evenly with the cinnamon mixture, then use a butter knife to swirl the cinnamon sugar around through the batter.
Allow to rest for 5 more minutes.
To bake the cake, place the pan in a COLD oven, then set the temperature to 350°F and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. It should be lightly browned and firm in center, and a tester should come out clean (minus some gooey cinnamon-sugar).
Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes. Then combine icing ingredients in the same bowl used to make the cinnamon mixture and drizzle over the just warm cake.
Sprinkle generously with the purple, green, and gold (to make it king cake-like) if you so choose. I only had green, and honestly I don’t like sprinkles anyway, so I did a bit for form’s sake 🙂
Delicious, super easy king cake-like goodness without all the hassle of a real king cake!
It does live up to the king cake hype in that it’s a bit more bread-y than cake-y texture, and it’s not overly sweet in a way that’s off-putting.
As I said at the outset, it’s more of an “alternative” than a true fast substitute, but it’s comforting and crumbling and delicious, and perfect for a random Sunday afternoon.
Other cinnamon-sugar goodness you’ll love:
- Apple Butter Cinnamon-Sugar Babka
- Orange Cinnamon-Sugar Twist Bread
- Cinnamon Swirl Bread
- Apple Pie German Pancake Bowls
Adapted slightly from Joy the Baker