Feb. 16, 2023

Mardi Gras Pear King Cake

Yield: 12 servings

Skill level: Moderate

Celebrate Mardi Gras with a traditional king cake featuring our new and excusive pear variety, Mardi Gras™. Mardi Gras pears are a decadent dessert pear, making them perfect for this recipe. King cakes often sport a fruit filling, so what better fruit to add than the one named after Mardi Gras itself! Make sure to bake in a small baby figurine to keep with tradition and bless one of your guests with luck and prosperity for the following year. Whoever cuts the slice with the figurine inside becomes the king or queen of your Mardi Gras celebration!


For dough

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons lukewarm water (about 100–105° F)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 ½ to 5 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For filling

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 4-5 Mardi Gras pears, peeled, cored, and cut into small dice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • Toy baby or dry bean to find (optional)

For glaze and topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • Water or milk, for thinning
  • Purple, green, & yellow sanding sugar/sprinkles


  1. To prepare the dough: Place warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle yeast over the top. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, or until the yeast bubbles up.
  2. In a small saucepan, stir together milk, sugar, and salt. Heat over medium heat until very hot to the touch, about 110-115°F. Remove from heat.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment lightly beat 2 eggs. With the mixer running on low, add the warm milk in a steady stream to the eggs. Continue mixing until well combined. The mixture should be warm to the touch.
  4. With the mixer still running on low speed, add 2 cups of the flour and mix until combined, then add the yeast mixture.
  5. Continue adding 2 more cups of flour, about ½ cup at a time, and continue mixing. Add the softened butter, one tablespoon at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition. Stop and scrape down sides, if needed. The dough will slip around the bowl but eventually, come together.
  6. Add the remaining flour with the mixer still running on low speed, just until the dough starts to come away from the sides and feels tacky to the touch. Stop the mixer and switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook.
  7. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, or until very smooth and elastic. The dough may feel a bit sticky; don’t add more flour unless the dough is overly sticky and not staying together in a large mass. If more flour is added, knead again for a few more minutes to allow for gluten development.
  8. Transfer the dough to a large, well-oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least an hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise again for 30 more minutes.
  9. To prepare the filling: While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Allow the butter to melt. Once the foaming has subsided, add the diced Mardi Gras pears. Sauté pears for 8-10 minutes. The natural juices will be released during this time and then start to reduce and become syrupy. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  10. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  11. To assemble and bake: Have a rimmed half-sheet baking pan ready. After the dough has completed the second rise, place a very large piece of parchment paper on a clean countertop and dust it with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and roll it into a large, 14” by 20” rectangle. Gently spread the dough with the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a thin, even layer. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Spoon the cooled pears over the cinnamon and sugar in an even layer. If desired, place a plastic baby or dry bean somewhere on the dough.
  12. Working with the long side of the rectangle, begin to roll the dough over on itself, trying to tuck and roll the dough securely, but not too tightly. This will help keep the filling in place. Once it has been rolled to the other side, gently pinch the seam together along the length of the roll to seal it. If needed, elongate the dough roll so it is uniform in size and length.
  13. Bring the ends of the dough together to form a ring. Press the dough together to form a secure seal. Slide a thin cutting board or pizza peel under the parchment paper and transfer the ring to the rimmed half-sheet baking pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or enclose in a large plastic bag. Set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 45-50 minutes.
  14. To bake: Preheat oven to 375° F. Using a very sharp paring knife, create 8-10 small slits over the top of the cake. Transfer to the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes. If browning too quickly, cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Remove from oven and allow king cake to cool completely before decorating.
  15. To decorate: Place the cooled king cake on a serving platter or cake stand. In a medium bowl, whisk together softened butter and cream cheese with a little of the confectioner's sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla extract along with the remaining confectioner’s sugar and whisk until completely smooth and creamy. If the glaze is too thick, add a tiny bit of water or milk and continue whisking. It should be neither too runny nor thick, but spreadable. Spoon the glaze over the king cake, spreading evenly with the back of the spoon to allow some to drip down the sides. Before the glaze sets, sprinkle with purple, yellow, and green sugar. Serve immediately, or cover with foil until ready to serve.

Recipe notes:

  • All-purpose flour can be used in place of bread flour.
  • 4-5 Mardi Gras pears are equal to 2-2 ¼ cups of small diced pears
  • Dough and pear filling can be made 1-2 days in advance. The dough will roll out nicely while still cold but may require a slightly longer rising time, and can also be allowed to come to room temperature before rolling and assembling king cake.
  • It’s tradition to put a tiny toy baby or dry bean in the cake. Both are optional.

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