Mardi Gras King Cake with Balsamic Reduction

by Cara Gambini
Mardi Gras King Cake with Balsamic Reduction - Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

Yields one loaf, about 12 servings

This recipe is adapted from Sprinkle Bakes



  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter (substitute for olive oil to make healthier) we suggest Sola Stella!
  • 2 (25 ounces) packages active dry yeast
  • ⅔ cup warm water
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs + 1 yolk (reserve white for later use), at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Standard Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (25g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Strawberry Balsamic Reduction:

We have also used a Nutella spread with our Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar drizzled on top and some toasted coconut. 


We like our ‘glaze’ a little creamier and decadent

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
  • 8oz cream cheese softened (not the spreadable kind)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla, we have even done lemon)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • Purple, green, and gold sanding sugars

Mardi Gras King Cake Slice | Texas Hill Country Olive Co.


Make the Dough:

  1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Gently stretch the dough into a 24x6-inch rectangle. You won't have to do much rolling here, just pat the shape out with floured hands. 

Make the filling: 

  1. Place the cream cheese, sugar and flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Cream together until smooth. Add the egg and extract. Mix again until combined.
  2. Spread the cream cheese filling on the stretched dough, you can stop here OR we suggest drizzling the Strawberry Balsamic Reduction on top. Then tightly roll the dough like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side.
  3. Beat the remaining egg white with 1 tablespoon water, and coat the unfolded edge of the dough with egg wash.
  4. Place the long roll of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, stretching it slightly and forming it into an oval. Pinch the ends together; use egg wash to adhere. Brush the entire loaf with the egg wash.
  5. Cover and let the loaf rise for about one hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F.
  6. Bake the cake for 20 minutes, then tent with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until fragrant and golden. Allow the cake to cool before frosting.
King Cake Slice | Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

Make the glaze:

  1. Combine butter and cream cheese in a bowl stand mixer (you can always use an electric hand mixer) and beat until creamy, and lump-free.
  2. Add vanilla extract and salt and still well to combine. 
  3. With the mixer on low, gradually add powdered sugar until completely combined.
  4. Spoon the icing over the cooled cake and immediately cover with alternating sanding sugar colors. Tradition calls for yellow, purple and green sugars, but of course, we rarely color inside the lines so feel free to mix it up, here we used some fun gold stars but we have also used black, gold and white in celebration of Saints Football, who ‘dat!

*If you are planning to participate in the tradition of hiding a plastic baby in the cake, pick your favorite spot gently lift the cooled cake and push the baby into the bottom. *Be sure to let everyone know to be on the lookout!  And if plastic babies aren’t your thing, or are hard to find, we have used plastic crowns and even a mustache ring. Mardis Gras is a time to express yourself!

Make the Balsamic Reduction:

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to simmer and reduce by half. (approx 8-10 minutes). Strain into a small container and cool. The reduction will thicken as cools.

Mardi Gras King Cake | Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

Baking with Olive Oil

Looking for more delicious cake recipes that use our Texas award winning olive oil and balsamics? We've got you covered:

Looking for other yummy baked goods that use Texas EVOO and balsamics? Here are some of our favorites:

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