Monday, February 15, 2010

History of the King Cake

I am driving to Mardi Gras as soon as I publish this post.  It is Lundi Gras (the Monday before Fat Tuesday) and New Orleans should be in full celebration.  I plan to eat a whole King Cake as soon as I get there!

photos from the Cupcake Project blog

The King Cake is a cinnamon roll-like cake gets its name from the biblical kings that came to honor Christ on Epiphany (The twelfth day after Christmas). The king cake season is from (January 6) Epiphany Day or the Twelfth Night to Mardi Gras Day.The famous King's Cake was brought to the New Orleans area by colonist from France and Spain. New Orleans bakeries feature their own style in the variety of recipes... The most traditional is twisted or braided bread. This cake is then topped with sugary icing and decorated purple, green, and gold sugar, icing, and sprinkles. The purple, green, and gold are the traditional carnival colors. Purple meaning Justice, Green for Faith, and Gold standing for Power; these colors were chosen by the Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch Romanoff of Russia during a visit to New Orleans in 1872.

King Cakes in Southern Louisiana date back to the eighteenth century, but in more recent history some New Orleans bakeries have begun to add their own touches to the traditional king cakes by adding a variety of flavored fillings including; apple, blueberry, chocolate, lemon, pineapple, raspberry, bavarian cream, cherry, cream cheese, pecan praline or strawberry. Throughout history, each cake was said to have a small trinket, or "baby" hidden inside. A tradition from the Roman Empire placed a little bean inside; in 1870 this bean was replaced by a porcelain figurine and more recently a plastic "baby." It is thought that this bean, or figurine was to represent Baby Jesus. And tradition declares whoever "gets the baby" or finds the figurine in their piece of king cake has the obligation to bring the next cake, or host the next carnival celebration.

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