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The History of Mardi Gras King Cakes

Mardi Gras King Cake is a type of cake associated with Twelfth Night Celebration, or the festivities of Epiphany, which begins on January 6th, twelve nights from the birth of Christ, or Christmas Day.  This celebration may also be called Little Christmas, or King’s Day, in honor of the kings, or wise men, who brought gifts to the Christ Child.  A popular custom is baking a cake for the kings, and this cake soon became known as ‘king’s cake’. 

The New Orleans tradition of baking a cake, for King’s Day, supposedly began as far back as the 1870’s, and continues today, from Twelfth Night, through to Fat Tuesday, or the Day before Ash Wednesday, or beginning of Lent. 

The ‘traditional’ King Cake is made from braided strands of Danish, cinnamon coffee cake dough, and then topped with a fondant icing, which is, then, liberally sprinkled with Mardi Gras festive colors of purple, green, and gold sanding sugars.  Purple represents Justice; Green represents Faith; and Gold represents Power.  Today, in the New Orleans area, many additional varieties of King Cake are also available by adding cream cheese, or other fillings to the traditional King Cake. 

In present day, New Orleans culture, a small, plastic baby, representing the Christ child, is placed inside
 the cake.  In other cultures, the king cake might contain a coin, bean, nut, or pea.  Good luck is to be had by the person who finds the baby in the cake, but New Orleans, Southern tradition, is that whoever finds the baby is the one who buys the next cake, or host the next Mardi Gras party.  This always helps to keep the party going through Carnival season!

A plastic, one inch baby is inserted inside each king cake; however, due to safety concerns, many bakers are including the baby for you to insert, into the cake, yourself, prior to serving.  Mississippi Queen Foods does it the old fashion by inserting the baby inside the cake, and asks you to please use caution, or common sense, when serving a Mardi Gras King Cake- the baby is inside, and please explain to all guests, especially children, and people not familiar with Mardi Gras traditions, to expect to find a small, plastic baby, lurking, somewhere in the cake!

I supply many displaced Southerners, with king cakes each season, through my company, Mississippi Queen Foods, here in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as many other folks, who want to celebrate Mardi Gras season.  No Mardi Gras party is complete without an authentic, Mardi Gras King Cake! 

The Mississippi Queen is one of those bakers, who offer Mardi Gras King Cake, any time of the year, all year round!  I have provided King Cakes to a number of weddings for the groom’s cakes, as well as birthday cakes, and even a baby shower.  Enjoy…whenever you like!

Wishin’ ya’ lots of good eatin’ & a Happy Mardi Gras seaon…

Connie Rouble, the Mississippi Queen

Mississippi Queen Foods

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