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Dong Phuong King Cake Recipe

  1. Introduction
  2. History of King Cakes and Mardi Gras
  3. Dong Phuong Bakery: A New Orleans Institution
  4. Ingredient List for Dong Phuong King Cake
  5. Equipment You’ll Need
  6. Step-by-Step Guide to Making Dong Phuong King Cake
  7. Finding the Perfect Spot to Let the Dough Rise
  8. Filling Options: Traditional and Creative Choices
  9. Creating the Signature King Cake Shape
  10. Baking and Glazing the King Cake
  11. Decorating Like a Pro: Icing, Sugars, and the Baby
  12. Tips for Making King Cake Ahead of Time
  13. Serving and Storing Your Creation
  14. Variations on the King Cake Theme
  15. Conclusion

Article: Dong Phuong King Cake: A New Orleans Classic


New Orleans is famous for its vibrant culture, music, and, of course, its food. One of the most iconic treats to emerge from this unique city is the King Cake, a colorful and festive dessert traditionally eaten during Mardi Gras celebrations. Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the world-renowned Dong Phuong King Cake, a version that has put this New Orleans bakery on the map. We’ll cover the history, ingredients, step-by-step instructions, and even offer some tips and variations to make your King Cake truly royal. Whether you’re a seasoned baker or a curious home cook, get ready to don your apron and embrace the spirit of Mardi Gras with this ultimate guide!

History of King Cakes and Mardi Gras
King Cakes have a long and fascinating history, with roots stretching back to ancient times. The tradition is believed to have originated with the Epiphany, a Christian feast day celebrating the visit of the Three Kings to baby Jesus. In the Middle Ages, a bean was hidden in a cake to represent the baby Jesus, and the person who found it became the “King” or “Queen” of the festivities. This tradition evolved over time, spreading across Europe and eventually making its way to the Americas.

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar. It’s a time of celebration and indulgence before the traditional period of fasting and reflection. King Cakes are an integral part of these festivities, with their colorful sugars and hidden treats representing the joy and surprise of the season.

Dong Phuong Bakery: A New Orleans Institution
Located in New Orleans East, Dong Phuong Bakery has become synonymous with exceptional Vietnamese baked goods, particularly its now-famous King Cakes. Established in 1982 by De and Huong Tran, the bakery has grown from a local favorite to a nationally recognized institution. Dong Phuong means “orient” in Vietnamese, reflecting the bakery’s focus on bringing the flavors and traditions of their heritage to New Orleans. Their King Cakes, in particular, have become a symbol of Mardi Gras celebrations, sought after by locals and tourists alike.

Ingredient List for Dong Phuong King Cake
Before we get started, let’s gather our ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to make the famous Dong Phuong King Cake:

  • For the Dough:
  • 1 cup warm water (105-110°F)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (4 ½ teaspoons)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, plus a pinch
  • 3 ½ cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • For the Glaze:
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3-4 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For Decorating:
  • Colored sugars in purple, green, and gold (traditional Mardi Gras colors)
  • Icing or frosting in white or cream
  • A small plastic baby figurine (for the King Cake tradition)

Equipment You’ll Need
Assembling the right equipment is essential for a smooth baking process. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A large mixing bowl
  • A stand mixer with a dough hook (or a hand mixer and some elbow grease)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A rolling pin
  • A pastry brush
  • A sharp knife or pizza cutter
  • Baking sheets
  • A wire rack
  • Parchment paper

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Dong Phuong King Cake
Now, let’s get our hands dirty! Follow these steps to create your own delicious King Cake:

Making the Dough:

  1. Combine warm water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in your mixing bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes until it becomes frothy. This step ensures your yeast is active and ready to go.
  2. Add the remaining sugar, bread flour, salt, milk, and egg yolks to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until the ingredients come together, then increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic. If you’re doing this by hand, get ready for a workout!
  3. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the melted butter and continue kneading until it’s fully incorporated. The dough should be soft, slightly sticky, and easy to handle.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and place it back in the mixing bowl, which should be greased lightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and find a warm, cozy spot for it to take a nap (more on this in the next section).

Finding the Perfect Spot to Let the Dough Rise
Yeast dough, like a sunbather, loves a warm environment to rise to its full potential. Here are some tips to create the ideal conditions:

  • Choose the warmest room in your house, or turn up the thermostat a bit. Ideal temperatures are between 80-85°F.
  • Avoid drafty areas, as wind can affect the dough’s rise.
  • Use the power of the sun! Place your bowl of dough near a sunny window, taking advantage of natural warmth.

Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, which should take about 1-2 hours depending on the warmth of your environment. Once risen, punch down the dough to remove air bubbles and get it ready for the next step.

Creating the Filling:

  1. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Mix well to ensure an even distribution of spices.
  2. On a floured surface, roll out your dough into a large rectangle, about ¼ inch thick. It should be thin, but not so thin that it tears easily.
  3. Spread the softened butter onto the dough, leaving a ½ inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the spice-sugar mixture evenly over the butter, again leaving a small border.

Shaping the King Cake:
Now comes the fun part – shaping your cake like a pro!

  • Starting with a long edge, carefully roll up the dough into a log, keeping it relatively tight as you go. Pinch the seam closed when you’ve reached the end.
  • With the seam side down, shape the log into an oval ring, joining the ends together. You may need to stretch the dough gently to ensure it reaches around.
  • Place your oval ring onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using your fingers, make indentations every 2 inches along the ring, creating a guide for slicing later. This will help you achieve an even shape.

Let the King Cake rise again. Place it in that warm spot you found earlier and let it rest for about 30 minutes to an hour, until it looks puffy and has risen slightly.

Baking and Glazing the King Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. Bake the King Cake for about 25-30 minutes, until it’s a deep golden brown. The internal temperature should reach 190°F when checked with a thermometer.
  3. While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, mix together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add more milk if it’s too thick, or more sugar if it’s too runny.
  4. As soon as your cake comes out of the oven, brush it generously with the glaze. The glaze will melt slightly, creating a beautiful shine.

Decorating Like a Pro: Icing, Sugars, and the Baby
Now for the finishing touches that will make your King Cake truly royal:

  • Once the glaze has set, it’s time to decorate with icing. Pipe or spread icing along the indentations you made earlier, creating a beautiful pattern.
  • Sprinkle the colored sugars in sections along the icing: purple, green, and gold. These colors represent justice, faith, and power, respectively, and are the traditional colors of Mardi Gras.
  • Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for – hiding the baby! Insert a small plastic baby figurine into the underside of the cake, somewhere within the cake’s “entrails.” Tradition dictates that whoever finds the baby in their slice brings or hosts the next King Cake party!

Tips for Making King Cake Ahead of Time
Planning a Mardi Gras party and want to get ahead? Here are some tips for making your King Cake in advance:

  • You can make the dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight. Simply punch it down the next day, shape it, and let it rise again before baking.
  • Bake your King Cake a day or two in advance and store it well-wrapped at room temperature. Glaze and decorate it just before serving to ensure a fresh, shiny look.
  • If you want to freeze your King Cake, do so before glazing and decorating. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before continuing with the final steps.

Serving and Storing Your Creation
King Cake is best served at room temperature, so there’s no need to chill it before serving. It’s a delicious breakfast or brunch treat, but it also makes a fun dessert or afternoon snack.

To store, keep your King Cake well-wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you want to extend its life, you can refrigerate it, but bring it to room temperature before serving to enjoy the full range of flavors and textures.

Variations on the King Cake Theme
Feeling creative? Here are some ideas to put a twist on the traditional King Cake:

  • Fillings: Experiment with different fillings like cream cheese, fruit preserves, or a chocolate hazelnut spread.
  • Icing: Try flavored icings like lemon, almond, or rum. You can also add food coloring to create icing in the traditional Mardi Gras colors.
  • Toppings: Sprinkle your cake with chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or even small candies for a fun twist.

And there you have it! You’re now equipped with the knowledge to create your own Dong Phuong King Cake and impress your friends and family. This New Orleans classic is a delicious way to celebrate Mardi Gras, or any special occasion, and is sure to bring a taste of festivity to your table. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and embrace the spirit of New Orleans with every bite.


  1. What is the significance of the baby in the King Cake?
  • The baby represents baby Jesus and is a symbol of the Epiphany, which is where the King Cake tradition originates. Whoever finds the baby in their slice is said to have good luck and may host the next King Cake party.
  1. Can I use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast?
  • Absolutely! Active dry yeast and instant yeast can be used interchangeably. Just make sure to activate the yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar before using it, as described in the recipe.
  1. How can I make my King Cake extra festive?
  • Go wild with decorations! Use colorful icing and sugars, and don’t hold back on the sprinkles. You can also shape your cake into a more intricate design, such as a braided ring or a crown shape.
  1. Is it necessary to let the dough rise twice?
  • Yes, the two rises are essential for a light and airy King Cake. The first rise is to help the dough develop flavor and texture, while the second rise is to ensure the cake is nice and fluffy before baking.
  1. Can I freeze my King Cake after decorating?
  • It’s best to freeze the cake before decorating. If you’ve already decorated it, you can freeze it, but the sugars and icing may melt slightly when thawing, affecting the overall appearance.

I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step guide to creating a delicious King Cake. Happy baking, and let the good times roll!


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