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History of Mardi Gras Kingcakes
Last Updated: Sep-25-2011, Hits: 1,272, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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History of Mardi Gras Kingcakes
It's seldom you find food with such a deep history as a King Cake. This fabulous cinnamon roll like cake gets its name from the biblical kings that came to honor Christ on Epiphany (The twelfth day after Christmas). The kingcake season is from Epiphany Day or the Twelfth Night to Mardi Gras Day. This year, 2010 Mardi Gras Day falls on Tuesday, Febuary 16. Mardi Gras Day or "Fat Tuesday" is the last day of the Carnival Season (starting January 6) and it always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday (The first day of Lent).

The famous King's Cake was brought to the New Orleans area by colonist from France and Spain. New Orleans bakeries feature their own style in the variety of recipes... The most traditional is twisted or braided bread, very similar to brioche. This cake is then topped with sugary icing and decorated purple, green, and gold sugar, icing, and sprinkles. The purple, green, and gold are the traditional carnival colors. Purple meaning Justice, Green for Faith, and Gold standing for Power; these colors were chosen by the Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch Romanoff of Russia during a visit to New Orleans in 1872.

King Cakes in Southern Louisiana date back to the eighteenth century, but in more recent history some New Orleans bakeries have begun to add their own touches to the traditional king cakes by adding a variety of flavored fillings including; apple, blueberry, chocolate, lemon, pineapple, raspberry, bavarian cream, cherry, cream cheese, pecan praline or strawberry. Throughout history, each cake was said to have a small trinket, or "baby" hidden inside. A tradition from the Roman Empire placed a little bean inside; in 1870 this bean was replaced by a porcelain figurine and more recently a plastic "baby." It was customarily said this bean, or figuring was to represent Baby Jesus. And tradition declares whoever "gets the baby" or finds the figurine in their piece of kingcake has the obligation to bring the next cake, or host the next carnival celebration.

Although many of us only picture the New Orleans style, colorful braided cake when we hear the term kingcakes, traditionally they were not so. The French style king cake "La galette des Rois" meaning the cake or "wafer" of the Kings looks nothing like our kingcakes. The La galette des Rois is made of flaky puff pastry with a heavy center of frangipane. These French kingcakes also have a trinket hidden inside, but these figurines represent things resembling cartoon characters or even cars. Another twist on the known New Orleans style king cake is the Mexican, "La Rosca de Reyes" or "Roscon de Reyes" both meaning King Cake. The Rosca de Reyes is made in an oval shape with dried or candied fruit for decoration, commonly using figs or cherries. The customary figuring representing the Child Jesus is also followed in these Mexican kingcakes as well.

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