Zulu style King Cake Recipe

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Last Updated on February 3, 2021 by Chef Mireille

Zulu Style King Cake – Ambrosia Bakery copycat – from famous Baton Rouge Ambrosia’s bakery stuffed w/ cream cheese & chocolate, perfect for Fat Tuesday. A departure from traditional King Cake with candied fruit, this modern version is so good – You will end up loving this version even more!

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Cool temperatures have started. All of a sudden this week, the jacket got pulled from the back of the closet as did the boots. Pretty soon, holiday season will be upon us. While the holiday season pretty much ends on New Year’s Day up here in the northeastern United States, it continues until Spring if you live in Louisiana, where holiday season isn’t officially over until Mardi Gras, also known as King’s Day.

Starting with Twelfth Night (the twelfth night after Christmas) until Mardi Gras, King Cake is sold every and any where with its symbols of justice, faith and power. The cake is supposed to honor the three kings, who visited the baby Jesus Christ on the twelfth night. It is often presented with a doll in the center, to represent the child Christ. I am presenting the Zulu style King Cake.

This is actually a sweet bread and is topped with colored sugars. The purple, green and gold represent justice, faith and power, respectively. Instead of the doll, modern versions are often baked with a pecan or a dried bean inside. If you get the pecan or bean, it’s supposed to be good luck.

The traditional version is a sweet brioche style dough with tutti frutti (candied fruit) and a cinnamon pecan filling. Modern versions are now commonly available with cream cheese, peanut butter, coconut and so many more options. One of the most popular modern versions replaces the tutti frutti with chocolate chips. This zulu king cake was created by Baton Rouge Ambrosia Bakery and is one of the most popular modern versions. It’s so popular they have even trademarked it and are the only ones allowed it to sell it as the name Zulu King Cake. Although it may be made the same, others have to sell it as Coconut King Cake or Coconut Chocolate Cake or some other such name. This is why I have named my version of this recipe as Zulu style.

Zulu Style King Cake

Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: Serves 16

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 – 115 F)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4-5 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (or 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest)
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (110 – 115 F)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons milk (for top)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Glaze Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water

Chocolate Sauce Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • a pinch of salt

Garnish Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons purple decorating sugar
  • 2 tablespoons gold decorating sugar
  • 2 tablespoons green decorating sugar

Add 2 teaspoons sugar to the warm water in a bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle yeast on top and wait 5-10 minutes for it to become foamy.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the rest of the sugar, 4 cups of the flour, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest, milk, butter and egg yolks. Mix well.

Add yeast water and knead using dough hook attachment for 5 minutes until soft and elastic, adding up to an additional 1 cup of flour to yield a soft but not sticky dough. I added an additional 2/3 cup.

Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap sprayed with non stick spray. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until doubled in size.

In a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Mix well to thoroughly combine.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with non stick spray.

Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured board, roll out half of the dough to a rectangle, about 9×12″. Spread half of the filling on the dough.

Starting on one of the long sides, roll dough into a cylinder, sealing the edges. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Stretch the cylinders so the are about 18″ in length.

Twist the two cylinders together into a rope. Then twist the rope into a ring. If desired, push a pecan into the dough. Transfer to prepared cookie sheet. Place a coffee can or a jar in the middle of the bread to keep the ring shape. Cover lightly with a towel and leave to rise for 45 minutes.

braid -edit

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Brush the top with milk. Bake for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate sauce. Combine all ingredients and cook over a double boiler, until melted.

Make glaze by combining sugar and water and stir to combine.

King Colors -edit

As soon as cake comes out of the oven, brush with glaze. Decorate with sugar in a pattern with the three colored sugars.

twist -edit

Drizzle chocolate sauce on top.

If desired, sprinkle with more colored sugars on top of the chocolate.

King Cake -edit

This is so over the top rich, decadent and delicious. Try this recipe so you can perfect it before Fat Tuesday.

Zulu King Cake -edit
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Zulu King Cake

Zulu Style King Cake – copycat from famous NOLA Ambrosia's bakery stuffed w/ cream cheese & chocolate, perfect for Fat Tuesday. A departure from traditional King Cake with candied fruit, this modern version is so good – You will end up loving this version even more! #shrovetuesday #fattuesday #mardigras
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time3 hrs 25 mins
Course: Bread, Dessert
Cuisine: Creole, New Orleans
Servings: 16 people
Calories: 436kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water 110 – 115 F
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4-5 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup warm milk 110 – 115 F
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons milk for top
  • Filling Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter softened
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Glaze Ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • Chocolate Sauce Ingredients:
  • 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • Garnish Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons purple decorating sugar
  • 2 tablespoons gold decorating sugar
  • 2 tablespoons green decorating sugar

Instructions

  • Add 2 teaspoons sugar to the warm water in a bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle yeast on top and wait 5-10 minutes for it to become foamy.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the rest of the sugar, 4 cups of the flour, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest, milk, butter and egg yolks. Mix well.
  • Add yeast water and knead using dough hook attachment for 5 minutes until soft and elastic, adding up to an additional 1 cup of flour to yield a soft but not sticky dough. I added an additional 2/3 cup.
  • Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap sprayed with non stick spray. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until doubled in size.
  • In a small bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Mix well to thoroughly combine.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with non stick spray.
  • Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured board, roll out half of the dough to a rectangle, about 9×12″. Spread half of the filling on the dough.
  • Starting on one of the long sides, roll dough into a cylinder, sealing the edges. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Stretch the cylinders so the are about 18″ in length.
  • Twist the two cylinders together into a rope. Then twist the rope into a ring. If desired, push a pecan into the dough. Transfer to prepared cookie sheet. Place a coffee can or a jar in the middle of the bread to keep the ring shape. Cover lightly with a towel and leave to rise for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Brush the top with milk. Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the chocolate sauce. Combine all ingredients and cook over a double boiler, until melted.
  • Make glaze by combining sugar and water and stir to combine.
  • As soon as cake comes out of the oven, brush with glaze. Decorate with sugar in a pattern with the three colored sugars.
  • Drizzle chocolate sauce on top.

Nutrition

Serving: 117g | Calories: 436kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 451mg | Potassium: 253mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 624IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg
Did you try this recipe? Leave a comment below.Please follow me on Instagram @chefmireille or tag me #chefmireille with your pics! I’d love to share them!
slice of King Cake with Mardi Gras beads and text

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Thank you for sharing!

About Chef Mireille

CHEF MIREILLE - AUTHOR, RECIPE DEVELOPER AND PHOTOGRAPHER FOR Global Kitchen Travels
***
Chef Mireille is a NYC based freelance chef instructor and food photographer. Due to her very diverse family background, she was able to travel and learn about global cultures and flavors from a young age. Her passion for culture, cooking, history and education had made her an expert on developing traditional globally inspired recipes & delicious fusion cuisine.
Her extensive travel history provides a plethora of background information and Travel Tips!

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Platter Talk

    Thanks for the history lesson on this cake & NOLA. I’ve had the cake before but never around New Years. Also, now that I know what the colors and baby inside stand for, I appreciate the tradition more. Your cake looks like it is of the super delicious variety, BTW!

    • Chef Mireille

      thanks – yes I also find the historical context so interesting. I guarantee this is a crowd pleaser- I’ve given away most of it – too many calories for me to consume on my own:) and everyone has loved it…even picky teenagers!

  2. Amanda

    I spent my early years in Mobile, AL. Everyone there knows what a Kings Cake is. Big on Mardi Gras there. This is different from any I have seen before. Yummy!

    • Chef Mireille

      Yes the last few years I had seen many King Cake recipes floating around blogosphere in the Spring and always wondered about the colors. It was interesting to learn the reasons for the colors myself now.

  3. Lizzie

    This looks great! Can’t wait to try this recipe after baking many traditional king cakes. Ambrosia Bakery is in Baton Rouge, not New Orleans 🙂 I’m a Baton Rouge native living in North Carolina. Ambrosia did our wedding cake! They are phenomenal.

    • Chef Mireille

      Thank you so much for the update. I am going to change that. I haven’t been to Baton Rouge yet and am excited to get to try it first hand! I just did a lot of research, but I guess I got that wrong 🙂

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