The King Cake...more than just cake!
As part of the Louisiana Christian faith, the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. We refer to this as the Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. This is a time of celebration, exchanging gifts and feasting. Today, the tradition continues as people all over the world gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. A popular custom was and still is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings called "A King's Cake."
Inside every cake is a tiny baby (generally plastic now, but sometimes this baby might be made of porcelain or even gold). The tradition of having King Cake Parties has evolved through time, and the person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.
Originally, King Cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today's King Cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the "baby" is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.
In more recent years, some bakeries have been creative with stuffing and topping their cakes with different flavors of cream cheese and fruit fillings.
January 6, the Twelfth Night after Christmas, is also the day our Mardi Gras season begins. Mardi Gras Day is always 47 days prior to Easter Sunday (Fat Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday).
So, in Louisiana especially, Mardi Gras season and King Cakes go hand in hand with literally hundreds of thousands of King Cakes consumed at parties and office lunch rooms every year.
My "semi-homemade" twist on this tradition is delicious, easy and affordable...not to mention a lot of fun to make!
What you will need:
(2) 8 ct. cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing
1/4 cup of confection sugar
Flour for rolling and shaping cakes
(1) can of your desired pie filling, optional
Food Coloring, 4 pack with red, blue, green and yellow
(1) 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
Granulated sugar for decorating
Biscuit cutter or a ring made from foil, optional
Plastic baby, optional
Mix the softened cream cheese and sugar.
Separate the rolls on a floured board.
Form two balls with your hands, each with 8 rolls.
Roll out each ball to a oval shape.
Spread each oval with cream cheese mixture.
Top with pie filling, keep extra for another use.
Pinch each closed with your fingers.
Form each section to make a circle on a baking sheet. I did not insert a baby since I was making this cake for my family.
My cake baked together, I forgot to place my biscuit cutter in the middle before baking. Not a big deal, because the cake is still as good and wont last very long. Ice the cake while warm with the cream cheese icing packets.
1/4 cup of sugar for each color.
Now you can enjoy the King Cake tradition this easy anywhere you are!
Here are some pics of our Mardi Gras home: