If we had to make a list of our favorite things about Mardi Gras, well, it would be a very long list. One thing that would definitely be near the top is King Cake. Louisianans get to indulge in the round, royal treat but once a year. There are a few things that can’t be disputed. Like, King Cake is delicious, nothing goes better with a cup of New Orleans coffee than a flakey, gooey, frosted slice of King Cake, and King Cake is delicious. We said that last one twice, didn’t we? The origins of King Cakes and the ritual of the baby are a little more difficult to clear up. So let’s give it a try.
Origin of King Cake
King Cake “season” officially begins 12 days after Christmas and is known as the Feast of the Epiphany. The Epiphany is said to mark the arrival of the three wise men. A long-standing, celebratory tradition was, and still is, to bake a sweet treat. As an ode to the three kings, the dessert was referred to as “A King’s Cake.”
King Cakes, like most Cajun cuisine, evolved from humble origins. The original cake was a very simple ring of dough with minimal decorations; a tradition we still honor. You can order a traditional King Cake here. Today our King Cakes are made of decadent brioche dough. Then the dough is filled; we have 18 fillings ranging from Bavarian Cream Cheese to Praline Pecan from Blueberry to Apple, and everything in between. The cake is baked to flakey, golden perfection then iced and topped with purple, green and gold sugar.
Now, let’s talk about the baby. This is where you will see Cajun folklore at its best. Many myths and mysteries surround the tradition. There is a small plastic baby with every King Cake, which is now inserted into the cake before it’s served. The baby is intended to represent Jesus. Whoever finds the baby is responsible for supplying next year’s King Cake and subsequently receives a year of good luck.
Ok, let’s take it back a few hundred years. The hidden object was once a bean, then a pecan or jeweled ring. People who found these objects would be crowned the King or Queen of the Mardi Gras Ball. Legend has it that around 1950 a traveling salesman, who purchased a surplus of tiny porcelain dolls, approached a famous New Orleans baker. He liked the idea of hiding the dolls in his cakes. The rest is history.
Today, we proudly continue these traditions. And boy are we glad, because King Cakes are delicious. Oh, yeah, we’ve mentioned that, right? If you are a seasoned King Cake veteran or if you have never tried one, head over to our website and order one, or a few. We can ship across the US, so that you can impress your office, add something special to a family gathering or celebrate your own private Mardi Gras! Laissez les bon temps rouler!