Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The tradition of King Cake

In honor of Fat Tuesday, let’s talk history.

What is a King Cake? Why is there a baby inside of it? What is it made of?

The tradition of King Cake is very, very old. Think 12th century France: exploding populations, no more Vikings, High Middle Ages, new spiritualism and Romanesque art. In France, the season for King Cake stretches from the celebration of Epiphany, a day of opulent feasting that honoring Baby Jesus, until Carnival, or what we know as Mardi Gras!

In the US the cake is named for the 3 Kings who brought presents to Baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Some say this Catholic tradition is the root of the plastic baby buried within the pastry. Others insist it is a secular flight of fantasy, much like the rest of Carnival. The best story comes from the heart of the festivities: In the 1950’s a bakery in New Orleans got an unusually large shipment of tiny plastic babies from Hong Kong, and thus began the tradition.

The cake itself is based on a brioche dough (eggs and butter…yum) formed into a long roll then twisted to make a spiraling circle. Then its covered in the traditional colors of carnival: white, green, purple and gold

Yes! I got the baby! That means that I am crowned the “Queen of the Party” and will have good luck for the next year. Finding the baby means I have to bring throw my own party next week, It’s tradition. ☺

Get your debauchery on….