The tradition of eating King Cake lasts throughout the Carnival season, from the feast of the Epiphany (the 12th day after Christmas), until Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”), the day before Ash Wednesday – the start of the Christian Lenten season. This year Mardi Gras falls on February 9.
After a King Cake is baked, it is decorated with granulated sugar in the royal colors of purple for justice, green for faith and gold (yellow) for power in honor of the three kings who visited the Holy Child on the Epiphany. It is also customary to hide a plastic toy baby (representing the Holy Child) inside the baked cake, with the person finding the trinket being treated like royalty for the day, receiving good luck for a year and in charge of supplying next year’s King Cake. (For the sake of safety, it’s not a bad idea to warn cake eaters that a toy is hidden inside the cake. A dry bean, or an almond may be substituted for the toy.)
I’ve used the recipe here for making King Cake for years, but it does take time to put together. So, to lessen the work, I like to use the “dough” cycle of my bread machine up to the first rising of the dough. A bread machine’s “dough” cycle comes in handy for yeast bread recipes, even for those not usually made in a bread machine. Once the dough completes the cycle, it can be removed from the machine’s bread pan and used according to almost any recipe up to the first rising.
If you like the idea of serving King Cake on Mardi Gras, but not the effort involved, I’ve also shared directions for baking mini King Cakes with a can of premade cinnamon roll dough and a six-compartment Bundtlette pan. They are easy to make, fun to eat and start to finish, ready in about 30 minutes.
King Cake is delicious served with dark roasted coffee and chicory blend coffee. In New Orleans, where the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations occur in the country, the Café du Monde, a landmark in the city’s French Market since the early 1860’s, serves their coffee and chicory either black or au lait (with equal amounts of hot coffee mixed with hot milk). You can serve the café’s coffee, too, via their “online café,” where cans of Café du Monde’s Coffee and Chicory are shipped worldwide. For further information visit www.cafedumonde.com, or call 1-800-772-2927.)
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.