Gluten-Free King Cake 12.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Mar 2, 2011

This xantham gum-free version gives celiac sufferers extra reason to celebrate at Mardi Gras.

The specialty flours called for here are available at organic grocery and health-food stores; they also can be ordered through online purveyors.

Servings: 12 - 16
  • For the cake
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons boiling-hot water
  • 4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) almond flour
  • 4 ounces (3/4 cup) corn flour, such as Bob's Red Mill brand (not cornstarch)
  • 4 ounces (3/4 cup) Japanese sweet rice flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 4 ounces (2/3 cup) potato starch
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) tapioca flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (do not use Saigon cinnamon, as it thwarts yeast growth)
  • 1/2 cup milk powder (may substitute goat's-milk powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl and pan
  • 1 miniature plastic baby
  • For the egg wash
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • For the icing
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
  • Freshly squeezed juice from 1 or 2 lemons (3 tablespoons)
  • Red, blue, yellow and green food coloring
  • Colored sugars and/or sprinkles, for garnish


For the cake: Turn on the tap water and run it over your wrist. When the water feels like it's the temperature of your skin (with no cold splashes or hot pockets), it’s ready. Mix 1/2 cup of that warm water, the yeast and the sugar in a medium bowl. Let sit for about 15 minutes, until doubled in volume.

Whisk together the flaxseed meal and boiling-hot water in a small bowl to form a slurry. Let cool.

Combine the almond flour, corn flour, sweet rice flour, potato starch and tapioca flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on low speed for about 5 minutes to aerate and incorporate.

Stop the motor to add the sea salt, brown sugar, cinnamon and milk powder; beat on low speed to incorporate.

Whisk together the vanilla extract, almond extract and eggs. With the stand mixer running on medium-low speed, add the vanilla-egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the flaxseed slurry and 1/4 cup of warm water. Mix for a few moments, until the dough comes together. The dough should be soft, not soggy, forming a loose mass around the paddle. It will not be as firm as a gluten dough would be. You are aiming for pliable, as with a cookie dough. If your dough feels drier than that, add the remaining 1/4 cup of water.

Use oil to grease a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot in the kitchen for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in size. At this point, the dough will be firmer and feel a bit more like gluten dough.

Use oil to grease a large tube pan with a removable bottom. Dust the pan with some of the sweet rice flour. (Alternatively, if you don’t have a tube pan, place a greased ramekin in the middle of a 9-inch pie plate.)

Place a long piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Transfer the dough to the plastic wrap; cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Use your hands to flatten the dough, then use a rolling pin to create a rectangle of dough that is 24 inches long by 6 inches wide. Discard the top piece of plastic wrap.

Starting with a long side, roll the dough into a tight log. Press the edge of the dough gently into the log of dough to seal it. Turning the seal side down on the plastic wrap, nudge the dough a bit to even out any bulges. Bring the two ends of the dough together into a circle and pinch them into one another.

Gently lift one part of the dough and push the plastic baby in from the bottom.

Transfer to the prepared tube pan, settling the dough evenly. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set it in a warm spot to rise to double its size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the egg wash: Whisk together the egg and milk in a small bowl. Brush the top of the cake with the egg wash.

Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully dislodge the cake from the pan; place the cake on the rack to cool completely.

For the icing: Combine the confectioners' sugar, milk and lemon juice in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on low speed until smooth and well combined.

Divide the icing among three small bowls. Use the red and blue food coloring to create purple in one bowl; use yellow in another (to stand in for gold) and green coloring in the last bowl. Spread or pour the different colors in alternating swaths on top of the king cake. Decorate with colored sugars and/or sprinkles.

Let the icing set before serving.

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Recipe Source

From Shauna James Ahern, blogger at and author of "Gluten-free Girl and the Chef" (Wiley, 2010).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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