King Cake Donut Bars


Onwards with the Mardi Gras theme!  I can’t help but be happy when I think of Mardi Gras.

I had my first bite of King Cake in the Big Easy at The Court of Two Sisters.  Truthfully, there was a slight moment of disappointment, because when one hears the word ‘cake,’ you expect sweet cake.  King Cake is more of a yeast bread with a cinnamon swirl and sweet frosting.  And there’s nothing wrong with that!  Please, love King Cake for what it is, not what you wish it would be.


For these donuts, I converted a baked beignet recipe into donut bars, because let’s be honest:  baked beignets taste like baked donuts.  The key difference here is that these baked donuts are made with actual yeast, while most baked donut recipes rely on baking powder.

I’m 110% sure you’re going to love these.


I scaled down Jenna’s recipe for oven-baked beignets for this application, because Jenna is a girl who really knows her way around yeast—just ask her former culinary instructor! Oh, Jenna, I kid!  I love ya!

I love to make this dough because it’s so wonderful to work with.  It starts out a tiny bit sticky, but after kneading, it’s supple and easy to knead.

Half a dozen baked yeast donut bars before rising:

Half a dozen baked yeast donut bars after rising:
I topped each donut bar with cinnamon-sugar and sweet glaze with colorful sprinkles. Don’t forget to butter your plastic wrap!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

5.0 from 2 reviews
King Cake Donut Bars
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Yield: 6 donuts
Serves: 2
  • 2 tablespoons 105° water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided use
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg white
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
For the glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons milk
  • colored sprinkles (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast with a pinch of sugar. Stir to combine. Let rest for 5 minutes until foamy. It MUST foam. If it does not foam, the yeast are dead. Start over.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter, and incorporate it into the flour by pinching it throughout the dough. You could also use two knives or a pastry cutter. The butter should be evenly distributed throughout the dough in small chunks about the size of pearl couscous.
  3. Next, stir the egg white and milk into the yeast mixture. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Flour the counter, and place the dough ball on it. Knead the mixture for 3-5 minutes, or until the dough is no longer sticky and feels soft and supple. Flour the counter, your hands, and the rolling pin as necessary.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Next, roll the dough out into an 8” square. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough in half, then in thirds to make six donut bar shapes. (See photo).
  6. Place the donut bars on a lined cookie sheet, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400°. Sprinkle the donuts with the cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake the donuts for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned on all edges.
  8. Let the donuts cool slightly, then whisk together the powdered sugar and milk for the glaze. Decorate the donuts while still slightly warm with the glaze and sprinkles. Serve immediately.
  9. The donuts taste best right out of the oven, but can be kept for 1 day in an air-tight container. It's best to warm them very briefly in the microwave before serving.




  1. says

    I love that you are not afraid to work with yeast! Thank you for all the yummy desserts and inspiring me to get in the kitchen and experiment with my own small batch desserts. I look forward to your recipes. Julie

  2. Julie says

    Yum!! I’m loving this New Orleans food! Didn’t you love the Court of the Two Sisters? That’s where my almost-10-year-old niece and her dad spent a long time popping the heads off of the crawfish and sucking their brains out, much to the disgust of her sister and cousin (who would take no part of this fun. Then and again, Liz was the niece who went to the Purdue Bug Bowl and spit crickets with her dad. As in, they put them in their mouths and saw how far they could spit them in a competition. She’s now an artist.) I digress. Love these!! Hope your anniversary was a good one. xoxo

    • says

      Oh, it’s a bit too early for me to be thinking about sucking crawfish brains LOL.

      A cricket spitting bowl?! You have the best stories! I married into a family of Boiler makers, so I’m going to have to ask them about this curious deal!

    • Julie says

      Yes! They have the Bug Bowl every spring (or used to). You go and check out all things bug-gy, of which the highlight is the cricket spitting contest. Stephie only wishes I were making this up. Only my little brother and his oldest were brave enough to put those things in their mouths. Artists. Sheesh. And yes. I have too many stories, according to my husband (who came from a boring family, IMHO). lol

    • says

      It’s true! The Purdue Bug Bowl also has chocolate covered insects – I never partook in either the bug spitting or eating. They also have all the horticulture facilities open that weekend and I still have a cactus from when I went almost 15 years ago!

  3. says

    I’ve made Jenna’s baked beignets before but didn’t give them this King Cake flair! At least now I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. :) These are so fun!

  4. says

    Yes, you are definitely in for disappointment if you compare King Cake to regular cake, especially if you have a serious sweet tooth like I do :)
    I’m loving your King Cake Donut Bars! Just need some cafe au lait to go with them for the perfect New Orleans breakfast!


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