The History of King Cakes
Although Caluda’s King Cake provides options for holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s, and Halloween, the traditional Mardi Gras King Cake remains an important foundation of our bakery. Here's a little background on our favorite dessert.
What Is King Cake?
The king cake is a mixture of a French pastry and a coffee cake. Its oval shape and festive colors give it a unique appeal. The original version features the royal colors of gold, purple, and green. Gold represents power, purple represents justice, and green signifies faith. The shape of the cake symbolizes the unity of faiths.
How Is King Cake Made?
The base of the king cake is made of cinnamon dough that is braided together. The dough is covered with poured sugar and colored sugar sprinkles. Some varieties may even include fillings like cream cheese, strawberry, lemon, and other flavors. At Caluda’s, we braid our dough and create colored sugars in-house by hand.
It’s important to note that there are many king cake versions that contain a variety of ingredients. However, the colored sugar or icing, cinnamon dough, and oval shape are consistent throughout most recipes.
Where Did King Cake Come From?
It is believed that the king cake tradition originated in France and was brought to New Orleans in 1870. The French version of this local delicacy is made of an almond-filled puff pastry that gives off a flaky texture. It also features a decorative pattern and is sometimes topped with a paper crown. The New Orleans style cake shares more similarities with the Spanish or Latin version, which is ring-shaped and topped with icing and candied fruit.
What Is Its Religious Significance?
In Roman Catholic tradition, the Epiphany represents the day that Jesus first made himself known to the three wise men. King cake season officially begins on this holy day, which is observed on January 6th and ends on Mardi Gras day.
Why Is There a Baby in the King Cake?
A miniature plastic baby, which symbolizes baby Jesus, is placed inside of each cake to signify the Epiphany. The person who gets the slice that contains the baby is known as the king. They are charged with the responsibility of bringing a king cake to the next event. This exchange lasts throughout the entire Mardi Gras season and is enjoyed by groups of all kinds, from families to coworkers.