A Kingly Tradition

February 14, 2023

Serving King Cake for Mardi Gras is a tradition in New Orleans that goes back to medieval France and was associated with the feast of the Epiphany on January 6, the day the three kings paid homage to a baby king. This dense yeast cake flavored with cinnamon and sugar and formed into a round shape to signify a crown, is liberally decorated with icing and yellow, green and purple sugars.

The cake was originally baked with a small trinket of a baby folded into the dough. Whoever gets the lucky slice with the baby was declared king (or queen) for the day. Today, the baby is displayed on top or near the cake, not baked into it.

A King Cake is decorated in royal colors of purple to signify justice, green for faith and gold for power. These colors were chosen to resemble a jeweled crown honoring the three Wise Men who visited the Christ Child on Epiphany. In the past such things as coins, beans, pecans, or peas were also hidden in each King Cake.

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