Y‘all… it’s TIME.
It’s time for the brioche-rich, cinnamon-swirled, colorfully sprinkled cake that is KING CAKE!
It’s carnival time here in New Orleans. That means that we’re celebrating life, pushing the limits of indulgence, dancing in the streets (most literally), catching as many beads as we can, throwing as many beads as we can, and eating King Cake… all before Lent next Wednesday. We have a lot to fit into this next week!
In New Orleans, which is a world in its own, we eat King Cake between very specific dates: January 6th to honor the Three Kings and Fat Tuesday (the madness just before Lent).
What’s with all of the colorful cake madness? History. We need a history lesson.
“The King’s Cake accompanies festivities to commemorate the Epiphany, the day the Magi (interpreted by some to mean “kings”) arrived in Bethlehem and presented gifts to baby Jesus the twelfth night after his birth. The cake is a reenactment of Epiphany, with a bean or baby figurine baked into the cake to symbolize Christ and is eaten throughout Carnival festivities.” – Three Men and a Baby: A Brief History of King Cakes
I hesitated to make this cake at home this Mardi Gras. King Cakes are absolutely everywhere in New Orleans and really… there’s no need to make one at home. That would be like visiting Paris and staying indoors to make your own croissants. I’m also very new to New Orleans. Who am I to make a dang King Cake? Well… here goes nothing (/everything).
• Is that a plastic baby Jesus in my cake? Kinda yea.
• 10 things to know about Mardi Gras. Yes… Mardi Gras is only a legal holiday in Louisiana. It’s a different world.
• Mardi Gras Mix Tape Zing!
Here’s what we need: flour and salt, milk, sugar and yeast. The makings of a fine and good yeasted bread.
What takes this treat from bread to cake is fat and flavor. Lots of melted butter, five creamy egg yolks, ground cinnamon, and lemon zest!
We’re also going to need a mega amount of sprinkles. Purple for justice, green for faith, gold for power. And a little plastic baby to sneak into the cake after baking. Whomever gets the cake has to buy the next King Cake… and the circle never ever ends.
If you’re not with us here in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I hope you make this cake and fill your kitchen with the spirit of this city. It’s special. It’s delicious! It’s Mardi Gras!