A king cake is a traditional dessert for Mardi Gras, a Carnival holiday that precedes Ash Wednesday and Lent every year. Although every recipe for king cake differs slightly, the basic version is a sweet, ring-shaped yeast bread cake drizzled with icing and decorated with purple, yellow and green sprinkles. Depending on ingredient and serving size specifics, the cakes’ nutritional information varies.
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What goes into a king cake determines its nutrition facts. Most contain flour, water, yeast, sugar, salt, eggs and butter or shortening. Basic king cakes don’t have any filling, but some varieties are filled with swirls of cinnamon and other spices, cream filling, butter and sugar or cream cheese, as in a Southern Living version of the original. Generally, basic cakes have the smallest amounts of fat, calories and sugar, and filled cakes contain much higher amounts.
Taste of Home’s king cake with pastry cream and almond filling has 12 servings per cake at 227 calories, 4 g fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 123 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber and 3 g protein per serving. Whole Foods sells king cake seasonally and also provides a recipe on its website for a version that has 15 servings per cake. Each slice has 340 calories, 9 g fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 320 mg sodium, 58 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber and 6 g protein.
When buying or baking king cake, it’s important to recognize that nutritional information tells only part of the story. Cakes made with nutritious ingredients, such as whole-wheat flour, wheat germ, low-fat yogurt or low-fat milk, canola oil or olive oil, honey or other natural sweeteners contain complex carbohydrates, lean proteins or unsaturated fats. Those nutrients are more healthful choices than refined products, simple carbs, full-fat protein and saturated fats.
With cake or any other treat, serving size matters. Eating a whole slice can deliver a lot of calories, sugar, carbohydrates and fat without making many people feel full or satisfied. For half the calories, split the slice with a friend, save some for later or cut yourself a smaller piece. To be sure of the nutrition facts in the king cake you’re eating, follow a recipe that includes them or buy cake that comes with the information.
When you make your own king cake, you can tweak ingredient amounts to yield better nutritional results. HelpGuide.org suggests cutting the amounts of butter or sugar that a recipe calls for and serving smaller portions. To calculate the nutrition facts for a homemade cake, tally the facts from the total amount of each ingredient used, add them together, and divide the result by the number of pieces in the cake.