This week I will be doing something that I don't normally do, but in the spirit of Mardi Gras, I thought I would give baking a shot. I will be trying my hand at making a King Cake. King Cake is a staple down here in Mobile and along the Gulf Coast. There are many varieties of fillings but most are the same shape, icing and sprinkles.
History of the King Cake
The King Cake is believed to have originated in France around the 12th century. These early Europeans celebrated the coming of the three wise men bearing gifts twelve days after Christmas calling it the Feast of the epiphany, Twelfth Night, or King's Day.
The main part of the celebration was the baking of a King’s Cake to honor the three Kings. The cakes were made circular to portray the circular route used by the kings to get to the Christ Child, which was taken to confuse King Herod who was trying to follow the wise men so he could kill the Christ Child. In these early King Cakes a bean, pea, or coin was hidden inside the cake. The person who got the hidden piece was declared King for the day or was said to have good luck in the coming year.
Twelfth Night also signifies the beginning of the carnival season which ends with Mardi Gras Day. The bean, pea and the coin have been replaced by a small plastic baby to symbolize the Christ Child. The person who gets the baby is expected to carry on the carnival festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.
I have my recipe in hand, thanks to Emeril, and my grocery list made out. Just keep your fingers crossed, wish me luck and check back in the next couple of days to see if I have burned down the house!