They yelled “Who got the baby?” and the party guest looked bewildered. He took another careful bite, slowly rolling the object with his tongue, and then slowly spit it out yelling “I got the baby, so I’m king for the day!” When I hear such stories it reminds me it’s Mardi Gras King Cake time!
Every year Carnival season officially begins on January 6th or the “Twelfth Night,” also known to Christians as the “Epiphany” and oh my, I’m just getting around to baking the holiday cakes nearly two weeks before the end of Carnival. I know, I know, it’s shameful, so today I’m baking two Mardi Gras King Cakes just to catch up.
The seasonal cake, a delicious brioche-like pastry and is not only rich in history but flavor too. The King Cake origin is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. The round or oval-shaped cake is shaped similar to a crown, and has a toy baby hidden inside, but in the past coins, beans, pecans, or peas were hidden in each King Cake.
As pieces of the delicious cake are eaten at Mardi Gras King Cake parties, someone will yell “Who got the baby?” Customarily the lucky person whose piece of cake contained the toy favor was crowned king or queen for the day, but today, the recipient is expected to host a king cake party at least purchase the next cake.
Rich history means rich flavors for a Mardi Gras King Cake. Think yummy cinnamon, brown sugar, fruit marmalade, cream cheese, and of course chocolate fillings. Right now in New Orleans, hoards of bakeries are churning out thousands of varieties of cakes in honor of the three kings and inserting plastic babies representing the Christ-child or their signature tokens.
The cakes are decorated in royal colors of purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. The colors chosen resemble a jeweled crown honoring the Wise Men who visited the Christ-child on Epiphany.
It’s not too late to eat a Mardi Gras King Cake, in fact in New Orleans they are eaten until Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” the last day of the Carnival season and the day before Ash Wednesday and not again until the following year on January 6th.
Did you yell “I got the baby!?” if so, bake a Mardi Gras King Cake and pass on a great New Orleans tradition.