after christmas and new year, it can seem like a long way before more holidays arrive with fun, delicious food or desserts. and then we remember… mardi gras, and more specifically, the king cake! Even those who haven’t been to New Orleans have probably seen King Cakes in their local bakeries starting in early January.
These days we can often associate Fat Tuesday and King Cake with beads and alcohol, the cake tradition actually started with Three Kings Day, a holiday that occurs 12 days after Christmas. while there are tons of great mardi gras recipes out there, we love king cake. but what exactly is a king cake and what is the story behind it? let us inform you.
what is the meaning behind the cake of kings?
the cake started a long, long time ago. we are talking about the middle ages! The first Kings cakes were made in Europe in celebration of the Catholic Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day (January 6). For those of us who haven’t visited a manger in a long time, a reminder: it’s a celebration of the day the three wise men are said to have visited baby Jesus and filled him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
the french brought the cake with them to louisiana in the 1870s, and all these years later, it has become synonymous with the french quarter, mardi gras, fat tuesday and all the rest of the good stuff in new orleans . but the cake is popular in many different cities and states. king cake is very much a seasonal cake: it’s available in early January, at the start of the carnival season, and then disappears on Ash Wednesday when everyone is giving something away for Lent.
what is king cake?
king cake is a ring of sweet dough covered with lots of frosting and purple, yellow, and green sprinkles or glitter dust. some people make their king cake more bread-like and others prefer a more cake-like version – there’s no right or wrong way. most are usually flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, or some combination of cream cheese. but they are always round with a hollow center; think of it as a crown you could put on your head if you were feeling particularly festive.
On the outside, king cake is usually topped with a luscious frosting and lots and lots of green, purple, and yellow sprinkles. Those colors are not random. green symbolizes faith; purple represents power; and yellow represents justice. oh, and there’s always a little plastic baby hiding in there too.
why is there a plastic baby in a king cake?
don’t worry! It is not that little, so there is no fear that you will eat it without knowing it. The plastic baby makes eating king cake more fun. in fact, it makes it a sport. everyone wants to find that little baby. Some say that the little baby is the baby Jesus, and others simply see it as a symbol of luck or prosperity. Whoever gets the cut with the baby is “crowned” king or queen for the day and he is said to be on his way to a very good year. so not only can you eat cake, but you basically have a chance to become royalty, if only for a day.
how do you make a king cake?
You can make it from scratch: There are tons of recipes online that can meet almost any need and skill level, but the basics remain the same. you make a sweet brioche dough and then put in a ton of cinnamon and/or a savory cream cheese filling, twist the dough into a ring and then bake it. don’t forget to drop the little plastic baby! after it bakes and cools completely you pile on the frosting and lots of sprinkles. but keep in mind: it could take up to four hours to make this cake from scratch.
Don’t feel like spending a day in the kitchen? You could absolutely buy a king cake mix, or buy one already made too.
where do i buy the king cake?
For those of us who’d rather shop than bake, there are options! As mentioned, no matter where you live, many bakeries and supermarkets in the US. uu. you will have them on hand during the carnival season. But if you’re craving a Louisiana-style king cake and you a) don’t live in Louisiana; or b) you don’t have time to visit louisiana to just buy a cake, you’re out of luck. many bakeries will ship it right to your doorstep. try manny randazzo or haydel’s bakery for a super delicious louisiana made treat.