History | Meanings | Flavors | Famous Recipes | Order a King Cake
King Cakes have been around since the 1870’s. Although now we have different ways of celebrating Mardi Gras, the King cake is still a huge tradition of the holiday. Weather you have a traditional cinnamon or a strawberry, the king cake is always one thing people associate with Mardi Gras.
The history of king cakes began in the 12th century in France, and were originally served only on January 6th which is the Twelfth Night. Over time the tradition has changed and now we eat them from the twelfth night after Christmas till Ash Wednesday. Starting in the 1870’s, king cakes came heavily from European customs; the first king cake came from the French settlers in New Orleans, Louisiana. Also in 1870, the Twelfth Night Revelers had a large king cake at their ball. Instead of practicing the traditional sacrifice ritual, which was done to ensure a successful harvest the next year from placing the “sacred king’s” blood in the soil; they used a bean placed inside of the king cake to decide who would be the queen. When the song “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” comes on the “Cake March” begins, and it is the first dance of the ball. This dance is reserved for the single women who are in the call-out section on the main floor. As their names are announced, or “called-out” they are escorted to a masked krewe member who then requests the favor of the first dance. Once the krewe member has received their “call-out” they take them to the large king cake to choose their piece.
Today, instead of having a real king cake at their balls, they use a wooden replica which has draws. Within the draws they place silver and gold beans which are then found by the ladies at the ball who open a draw to see what color bean they have received. Those who receive silver beans are ladies on the court, and the one lady who receives the gold bean becomes the queen.
There are many meanings included in the king cake.The oval shape of the king cake represents the unity of faiths, and the path that the wise men took to get to the Christ Child. Due to the fact that King Herod was trying to follow the wise men, they had to take a circular path to confuse him.
The plastic baby that is now used in the king cakes rather than a bean or coin represents baby Jesus. The person who retrieves the baby from their piece of king cake is said to have good luck for the next year, and is the one who gets to throw the next king cake party.
The classic colors that everyone associates with Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. These colors where chosen in 1892, when the Rex Parade theme "Symbolism of Colors" gave the colors their meanings. Purple standss faith, and gold is for power.
There are many different ways to obtain a king cake, you can make your own or buy one from a local bakery or even get one shipped to you at home . The recipies for king cakes very in difficulty from just a few steps to a whole day of baking. No matter how long you bake the king cake will still taste great!
Chef Emeril Lagasse’s recipe: (complex)
• 2 envelopes active dry yeast
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
• 1/2 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
• 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
• 4 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
• 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
• 4 cups confectioner's sugar
• 1 plastic king cake baby or a pecan half
• 5 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sugar sprinkles
• Combine the yeast and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the melted butter and warm milk. Beat at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, and then beat for 1 minute at medium-low speed. Add the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest and beat until everything is incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and starts to climb up the dough hook.
• Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a bowl with the vegetable oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
• Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar. Blend by hand or with an electric mixer on low speed. Set aside.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your fingers, pat it out into a rectangle about 30 inches long and 6 inches wide.
• Spread the filling lengthwise over the bottom half of the dough, then flip the top half of the dough over the filling. Seal the edges, pinching the dough together. Shape the dough into a cylinder and place it on the prepared baking sheet seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring and pinch the ends together so there isn't a seam. Insert the king cake baby or pecan half into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.
• Cover the ring with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm, draft-free place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
• Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
• Brush the top of the risen cake with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
• Make the icing. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons milk, the lemon juice, and the remaining 3 cups confectioner's sugar in medium-size mixing bowl. Stir to blend well. With a rubber spatula, spread the icing evenly over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals, alternating colors around the cake.
• The cake is traditionally cut into 2-inch-thick slices with all the guests in attendance.
• YIELD: 20 to 22 servings
• 1 can of cinnamon rolls, with icing
• 3/4 cup of sugar, separated into 3 parts of 1/4 each
• food coloring
• Separate the cinnamon rolls and roll them out by hand so that they look like a hot dog. Shape the roll into an oval, pinch the ends together, and place on a cookie sheet. Cook as directed.
• While they are cooking, use food coloring to dye sugar. Make one part purple using blue and red, one part green, and one part gold using yellow. When they are finished cooking, ice the tops with the white icing. Sprinkle the different colors of sugars alternating as you go around the oval. Enjoy!
King cakes were traditional just filled with a cinnamon mixture, but now you can find king cakes in just about any flavor. From fruit filled to cream cheese.
o Traditional- cinnamon
o Zulu- filled with cream cheese, chocolate chips, and coconut, then topped with hot chocolate and toasted coconut (some times available without coconut)
o Cream cheese
o Pecan praline
Links to order king cakes:
Gambino's ships king cakes year-round.
Toll Free: 1-800-392-5941
in-store pick up:
Toll Free: 1-800-756-5274