King Cake

The King Cake is a traditional pastry eaten in New Orleans, most commonly during the celebration of Mardi Gras in February or March each year. It can be similar in consistency to a traditional cake or may be more similar to a danish, and it is often filled with pastry fillings. Popular flavors often include cherry, apple, lemon, and cream cheese. The cake shares many similarities with a similar Carnival cake eaten in France and in many other countries, and the traditions associated with the King cake and with these other celebratory pastries are no doubt linked to a common thread of culture and history.

Decoration & Traditions

upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_thumb_a_ae_kingcake.jpg_250px-kingcake.jpg King cakes are generally covered in icing which has been dyed gold, purple, and green as these are the three colors associated with Mardi Gras. Certain cakes may have different flavors available for different sections of the cake such that each color icing corresponds to a separate filling. After baking, a small toy (usually shaped like a small baby said to represent the infant Jesus) is pressed into the bottom of the cake in a random location. When the cake is served to a large party of people, the person who finds the baby in their piece is the king of that particular Mardi Gras party, and as a result they are responsible for bringing the King Cake to the party during subsequent years. The toy can pose a choking hazard to children, making it important to assure that the baby is found and removed prior to the actual eating of the cake.

King cakes are an essential part of teh Mardi Gras celebration and tradition, and there are many local bakeries and recipes for king cakes. Certain companies ship king cakes throughout the country for any local Mardi Gras celebrations that may require them. When eating a king cake, one ought to share it with as large a group of people as possible - the cake is a symbol of goodwill and good wishes, and this couples with the reduced risk of locating the baby in the cake should inspire anyone to spread around the appropriate Mardi Gras cheer. Mardi Gras immediately precedes the season of Lent, a time period in which many of the Catholic faith forgo some aspect of their normal lives, often in the form of unhealthy food. In this sense, King Cake can also be a last indulgence before a period of penance, making it all the more essential that one consumes this pastry despite its clearly unhealthy nature. If one is hosting a Mardi Gras party, a King Cake would make an ideal centerpiece, though it would of course be incomplete without beads and other New Orleans inspired cuisine such as seafood or beignets.


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