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Blackberry Lemon King Cake

King cake is my favorite part of Louisiana’s Carnival season. This cake is eaten in the months leading up to Mardi Gras, and a plastic baby is always hidden inside. Whoever gets the piece with the plastic baby has to bring the next king cake! The traditional filling is cinnamon, but I created this version for The Great American Baking Show because the bright berry filling and lemony tang perfectly balance the sugary sweet glaze. This cake won me “Star Baker” for bread week, and after one bite, you’ll see why! 
5 from 1 vote
Course Dessert
Servings 1 Giant Cake


For the bread:

  • 1 cup (240ml) warm water
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • cup (65g) granulated sugar
  • 1 (¼-ounce/7g) package instant yeast
  • 4 cups (500g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Grated zest from 3 lemons
  • Softened butter or vegetable oil, for the bowl

For the filling:

  • cups fresh blackberries
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon

For the vanilla glaze

  • 2 cups (240g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (42g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60ml) whole milk or nondairy alternative
  • ¼ cup each purple, green and yellow sugar


  • Prepare the bread dough: Add the warm water and 2 of the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the sugar, yeast, flour, salt, the 5 tablespoons of butter, and lemon zest. Knead on low speed until the ingredients have come together, about 2 minutes.
  • Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic and the gluten develops, 8 to 10 more minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when a single ball forms on the dough hook and it thwacks the side of the bowl as the dough hook moves.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and shape the dough into a ball. Transfer to a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic or a clean damp towel and let rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Prepare the blackberry filling: Combine the blackberries, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small or medium saucepan. Smash the blackberries and stir. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a separate bowl, and allow to cool completely before using.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Divide the challah dough into 2 equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope that’s 18 inches long. Roll the ropes to rectangles that are 6 to 8 inches wide. Smear blackberry filling on the rectangles, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides, then roll tightly like a jelly roll. Twist the 2 rolls, then bring the ends together to form an oval ring on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Cover with a clean dish towel until risen and doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl. Brush egg wash all over the loaf. Transfer the loaf to the oven and bake until browned, 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Make the vanilla glaze: Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. Whisk in the butter, vanilla, and milk until smooth.
  • Cover the cake with the vanilla glaze and sprinkle with purple, green, and yellow sugar before serving.


make ahead The dough can be made through step 3 and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. The cold air slows the dough’s rise, yielding a richer flavor. When ready to use, remove the dough from the fridge and punch it down before shaping. It will need a little more time on the second rise.
Keyword blackberry cake, carnival, great american baking show, mardi gras, new orleans