A Cake Fit for a King – The History of the King Cake


A king cake is a unique type of cake traditionally made twice a year. The cake symbolizes the three wise men or Kings who brought presents to baby Jesus. It is first made on the 12th day of Christmas. More popularly, however, it is made during Mardi Gras, the festivities that occur the day before the Lenten season of Penance begins.

The cake is a simple cake, typically made in a cylindrical shape with a hole in the middle, kind of like a giant donut.

The most traditional recipes call for a French bread type batter with a layer of frosting on top. Other standard recipes call for a brioche style, sweeter cake, again with the icing on top.

Other countries celebrate with the king cake as well and have developed their unique traditional recipes. Some countries have very sweet cakes made from puff pastry.

The frosting is typically three layers which match with the Mardi Gras colors. Purple, symbolizing justice, green, symbolizing faith, and gold, symbolizing power. These colors honor the three Kings who came to visit baby Jesus on the night of his birth.

The truly unique thing about the king cake is the tradition of baking a trinket into the cake. Typically, one or more baby Jesus figurines are baked into it (some people bake fave beans inside instead) Those who find the baby Jesus are said to have prosperity and luck all year.

Other traditions and legends have been developed for finding the baby Jesus figurine as well. Some people think the person to locate the trinket is the king or queen for the evening. Others say those that find the baby Jesus must bring the cake next year or throw the next Mardi Gras party.

Heading to a Mardi Gras party this year? Here’s a great King Cake recipe you can bring.





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