Bavarian Cream Cheese King Cake {Recipe}


  • 1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange oil or extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil or extract 
  • 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby

Bavarian Cream Cheese Filling:


  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange oil or extract 
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Purple, green and gold sugar crystals


Combine the yeast, flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and lemon rind in mixer bowl and add water, warm milk, butter,  egg yolks, and orange and lemon oils. Beat with dough hook on speed 1 for 2 minutes until smooth. Increase speed to 2 and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into three pieces of equal weight, and preshape each piece into a batard. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes. 

Roll each batard into a rope, about 30 inches long. If the dough springs back too much, allow it to rest for 5 minutes and continue rolling. Lay the ropes vertically side-by-side with one end near the edge and the other toward the back of the counter. Numbering the ropes 1-3 from left to right, lift the end of rope 3 closest to you and lay it over the center of rope 2. Do the same with rope 1, lifting it and placing over center of rope 3, which is now in the center. Continue braiding, alternating between the right and left sides, until you reach the end. Press the ends together, then rotate the dough 180 degrees, so the unbraided sides are again facing you. Braid as above, this time moving the outside pieces under the center, until all the dough is braided. Press the ends together.

Place the braided dough on a buttered baking sheet. Shape into an oval, pinching ends together to seal. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the dough from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.

Prepare filling ingredients by beating cream cheese on high speed until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, mix on low until combined, then on high for 2 minutes. Spoon filling into piping bag fitted with large tip. Fill King Cake by piping Bavarian cream into crevices in braid.

Cover with a floured towel or plastic wrap sprayed with pan oil, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the cake to a rack and allow to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors.

Be sure to check out my classic King Cake recipe, too.



  1. Monica said,

    February 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Did you ever try rolling the filling inside? I made this cake last year and growing up in California I had no idea what it was supposed to come out like. Everyone loved it and have asked me to make it again this year but I think I would prefer the filling inside and I was wondering if you ever tried it. Thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to make it again 🙂

    • gaaarp said,

      February 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      I haven’t, but I wonder if the filling would soak into the dough as it bakes. I think if you want the filling inside, you might want to pipe it in after baking like you would a custard doughnut.

      • Monica Holbert said,

        February 17, 2012 at 8:18 pm

        Thanks! I’m going to make 2 of them so maybe I’ll try it both ways and see which works best 🙂 I’ll let you know how they come out.

  2. Mary said,

    January 5, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Thanks so much for the recipe….I can’t wait to make this!

  3. Kayte said,

    February 18, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I am making this one next year for sure, and I might sneak it in at Easter as well, it just looks so festive and Easter-ish to me! You are an inspiration.

    • gaaarp said,

      February 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm

      Pastel sugar crystals would be great for Easter!

      I’m going to make this again but roll the filling inside the dough. If it works the way I hope, I’ll post yet another King Cake recipe!

  4. ap269 said,

    February 18, 2010 at 3:42 am

    Wow, the colors are great. Is a Bavarian Cream Cheese King Cake supposed to look like that? I don’t think we have colored sugar crystals here in Germany :-((((. This would be perfect for a kid’s birthday party!!!

    • gaaarp said,

      February 18, 2010 at 7:28 pm

      The sugar crystal colors are traditional for Mardi Gras. You could make them any color you want, or color the frosting instead.

      You can make your own colored crystals with sugar and liquid food coloring. Start with 1/2 cup sugar in a plastic bag. Add a few drops of food coloring. Shake the bag well; add more food coloring until the crystals are the shade you want.

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