Tradition says that whoever finds the plastic baby tucked inside the cake is "king" for the night, but also has to bring the next King Cake for the following year's celebration. If you've found yourself in charge of bringing the cake, impress your friends by making your own and giving it a twist that's more fun, but simple to do, by filling the inside with color (and coating the outside in delicious cream cheese icing and praline pecans). Now, don't be intimidated by the cake's impressive appearance, this recipe keeps the King Cake simple by using store-bought hot roll mix. You can buy candied pecans at your local grocery store, or you could make your own with just five ingredients.
1 (16-oz.) package hot roll mix (such as Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix)
Prepare hot roll mix according to package directions through the dough resting. Working on a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough into a 17- x 12-inch rectangle. Brush off excess flour from surface and brush melted butter evenly over entire dough surface. To create clean division in colors, use two 4- x 17-inch strips of parchment to cover sections of dough, leaving 1 (4- x 17-inch) strip of dough exposed at a time. Sprinkle each section with a single colored sugar (green on top, yellow in middle, purple on the bottom). Roll dough lengthwise and form the rolled dough into a ring. Moisten fingers with water, crimp ends to create a sealed doughnut shape. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (about 85°F), free from drafts, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°. Place dough ring, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 25-28 minutes. Carefully remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack 5 minutes. Spread cream cheese frosting over cake and sprinkle with praline pecans.
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