Arts & Culture

King Cake Cupcakes

Makes 15 individual cakes

A miniature Mardi Gras tradition

Photo: Jacqueline Stofsick

On Epiphany day— the official beginning of king cake season—Asheville baker Jodi Rhoden had her own epiphany, turning the classic Mardi Gras king cake into a handheld treat.

Rhoden, owner of Short Street Cakes, took her “old school, real deal, made-from-scratch” king cake dough, coiled it, sliced it into medallions, and fit them into a cupcake tin. “People like individual bite-sized things,” she says. “It’s party friendly and it’s less of a mess.”

The French-style dough is rich like a stollen, raised with yeast, and buttery like sin. Jodi modified her recipe from the 1983 Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook.

Jacqueline Stofsick

The cupcakes are stuffed with one of three things—cinnamon, strawberry, or pecan praline cream cheese. Once cool, they’re topped with a powdered sugar lemon glaze. Rhoden doesn’t miss the most important detail. Inside every dozen or so cupcakes rests a plastic baby.


  • Short Street Cakes King Cake Cupcakes

    • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast

    • 1/4 cup warm water

    • 1 tsp., plus 1/4 cup sugar

    • 2 cup flour

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

    • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

    • 1/4 cup warm milk

    • 3 egg yolks

    • 3 oz. melted butter

  • Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling

    • 8 oz. cream cheese

    • 1/2 cup brown sugar

    • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • Lemon-Sugar Icing

    • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

    • 2 tbsp. milk

    • 1 tbsp. lemon juice


  1. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until yeast and sugar are completely dissolved, then let rest until the yeast is foamy, bubbly, and active, about 5 to 10 minutes.

  2. Combine flour, salt, sugar/yeast mixture, nutmeg, and lemon zest in the bowl of a mixer. Fit mixer with dough hook attachment, turn on low speed, and add milk, egg yolks, and melted butter, a little at a time, until all ingredients are combined; continue mixing on low about 10 minutes.

  3. At this time, if the dough has not formed a sticky ball in the bowl, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, no more than ½ cup total.  Scrape down sides and bottom of mixer and let mix again for another 10 minutes.

  4. Turn onto oiled surface and knead by hand into tidy little ball, 5 minutes or so.

  5. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until it doubles in size, about 1 to 2 hours. Stretch and roll your dough into a long rectangle.

  6. Combine filling ingredients and spread mixture onto the surface of the rectangle. Roll dough into a roulade and slice into 15 medallions.

  7. Place medallions flat side down in lined cupcake tins. Cover, set aside. Let rise again until double.

  8. Bake at 325 for 10 to 15 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

  9. Combine icing ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until it achieves desired consistency (adjust with more liquid or more powdered sugar if necessary).

  10. Glaze after the cupcakes are cool, making sure to hide a baby trinket or charm inside one of the cupcakes before icing. Decorate with Mardi Gras Beads or yellow, purple, and green sprinkles.

Recipes from Jodi Rhoden of Short Street Cakes in Asheville, North Carolina