Royal Street Treat: Mardi Gras King’s Cake Recipe
Mardi Gras is steeped in tradition, and while you may forgo the feathers and floats this year, if you’re looking to add a touch of French Quarter authenticity to your celebration, then you can’t do better than an old-fashioned King’s Cake.
It’s one of those foods that comes with a long and deliciously tangled history. As legend has it, the cake dates far back to medieval Europe and the celebration of Epiphany (or the Twelfth Night of Christmas) at the beginning of January, which commemorates the biblical story of the three kings visiting the infant Jesus. In traditional versions of the cake, a bean, pea or coin would be baked inside. Whoever found it would be responsible for baking the next King’s Cake and hosting a celebration the following week. This would continue all the way to Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras.
Our King’s Cake recipe is based on the classic version, which in turn, was brought to the New World by French and Spanish settlers. A simple yeast pastry dough (think of the dough in cinnamon rolls) is formed into a circle and topped with a thin vanilla frosting. Today, many cakes have replaced the bean or coin with a plastic baby (symbolizing baby Jesus). We’ll admit that we haven’t tested how one might bake a plastic doll into the middle of a cake—our version harkens back to the original, using a pecan half instead. For maximum authenticity, top your King’s Cake with colored sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple (for justice), gold (for power) and green (for faith).
Make this Mardi Gras King’s Cake!
Go wild with all our Mardi Gras recipes!