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The History Of Mardi Gras And The King Cake

By February 15, 2018May 24th, 2019No Comments
kings cake at Belmar bakery in Amarillo Tx
Many people around the world celebrate the new year with a pastry called the king cake. You can usually find it in bakeries until early spring. Many people think of this dessert as part of Mardi Gras, but it was originally associated with the Epiphany celebration.

The origin of king cake

During the Middle Ages, this pastry was associated with Epiphany in Spain and Old World France. It was brought to the New World with Christianity and Catholicism, where the tradition evolved. The king cake is now an important part of Mardi Gras celebrations because the person who finds the baby inside it becomes the host of next year’s celebration.

The king cake for the Epiphany celebration

In honor of this holiday, people eat king cake on January 6. This historic date marks the time when the three kings (or wise men) arrived in Bethlehem to give their gifts to the baby Jesus. A plastic baby is often placed inside cakes as an acknowledgment of this event. People also serve king cake from Epiphany to the holiday known as Fat Tuesday. This is the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. During Lent, practitioners usually avoid indulging themselves with things like dessert.

Making the king cake

New Orleans, Louisiana hosts the most famous Mardi Gras party in the United States. Louisiana king cakes are made in a very specific way, although other bakers may have variations with how they make this special pastry. A sweet dough is twisted into a round shape and sometimes colored sugar dough is added before it is baked. You can find split versions that have been filled with fruit or cream. Other types have toppings of icing, colored sugar, and fruit. In Louisiana, the king cake almost always has decorations in the colors of Mardi Gras. Green represents faith, gold represents power, and purple represents justice.

How will you know a king cake when you see it?

cherry cream cheese kings cake at Belmar Bakery in Amarillo, Texas

Most people in America are familiar with the king cake style from Louisiana. It is made from a cake similar to bread dough that bakers twist into a ring shape. After it is baked, the dessert is decorated with colored icing and sprinkles. Almost all versions of king cakes are made into a circle shape to mimic a crown. Sometimes, king cake is made from bread dough or cake batter, but every cake has a small figurine in it, usually a baby. The finder of this trinket gets to be king for a day, but they must host the next year’s Mardi Gras celebration.

The origin of the plastic baby

Hiding a small trinket inside the king cake is not a new tradition, but the plastic baby is modern and began in New Orleans. McKenzie’s, a commercial bakery, made the plastic baby a popular addition to this dessert in the 1950’s. Originally, the babies were porcelain, but were later changed to plastic figures that were easier to find. Today, the baby is usually given to the customer to hide in the cake themselves instead of being baked inside. This is because there are concerns about eating the part of the cake that has been cooked around the plastic.

Where can you find a king cake?

The city of New Orleans has many bakeries with different kinds of king cakes, including brioche rings and even ones decorated with bacon or peanut butter. If you cannot be there for Mardi Gras, any major city with a bakery is likely to carry king cakes during the season.

Looking for king cakes in Amarillo, Texas?

If you are looking for a king cake, visit Belmar Bakery & Cafe in Amarillo. We specialize in decorated cakes of all flavors, shapes, and sizes. We have been in the business of producing wholesome and homemade foods for over 50 years, including Breakfast & Lunch, Party Trays, and custom cakes. Call us today at (806) 355-0141 or Contact Us via email to learn more. You can also fill out our online form for a personal Cake Quote or visit us in person at 3325 Bell St. in Amarillo, Texas.