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King Cake Tradition and Making Your Own

Updated on January 10, 2012

King Cake Tradition

During Mardi Gras, everyone takes part in the king cake tradition. Generally this begins with one person buying a king cake then giving it to friends or an office to share. Whoever finds the baby in their slice of king cake must return the favor and buy the next cake. So, eat with trepidation as you may be the next in line to make the purchase.

The first king cake in conjunction with the Mardi Gras celebration began in 1870 by the Twelfth Night Revelers of New Orleans. The king cakes contained a golden bean, that when found by a woman chose the Queen of the Festivities.

King cakes generally taste like a big cinnamon roll, doughnut or pastry with a sugary icing and decorative sprinkles in purple, gold and green. However, there are many different places that you can purchase king cakes, and all make them in their own unique way. You can have fillings put in your king cake that range from nuts, fruits, cream cheese and a variety of other fillings. Make sure you ask the baker for a list of their fillings or go to the website ahead of time. Many bakeries allow you to order online, so feel free to take advantage of this as many of the phone lines will be busy!

If you are interested in purchasing a king cake to have it shipped to yourself, a friend or a client, there are several places that I can recommend.

  • Poupart's Bakery www.poupartsbakery.com (brioche dough or puff pastry)
  • Meche's Bakery www.mechesrl.com (more like a large, delicious doughnut)
  • Gambino's Bakery www.gambinos.com/shop/locate_a_store.php (traditional)
  • Keller's Bakery www.kellersbakery.net (Danish pastry)

If you simply "Google" king cakes and Louisiana, you can find a more comprehensive list of bakeries.

How to Make a Mini King Cake

There are many different recipes for king cakes out there, but I recommend you use your favorite puff pastry recipe or favorite cinnamon roll recipe. (I will put a a recipe below, but feel free to use your own.) Once you have made your dough, cut it into strips like you would a cinnamon roll, then roll the strip and wind into a circle. Bake as the recipe suggests. Next, make your icing (recipe below), spread on the cake, then add sprinkles of purple, gold and green. To make your king cake more authentic, purchase the plastic babies to add to the cake (add AFTER baking).

Decorating with Friends

Because mini king cakes are inexpensive to make and fun to decorate, invite a few friends over for a king cake decorating party. Bake everyone's king cakes for them right before they arrive, prepare the icing and set out the sprinkles and babies. Allow everyone enough space to work on their king cakes and get to decorating! It is a good idea to provide a box or plate for each guest to bring their king cake home in/on (in case they do not eat them on the spot!). You can also provide a Mardi Gras bead or two along with some doubloons to decorate the boxes (most bakeries will garnish their king cakes in this way).

Paula Deen's Recipe for Cinnamon Rolls

(This can be found on the Food Network website www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/cinnamon-rolls-recipe/index.html)

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1/4-ounce package yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for pan
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins, walnuts, or pecans, optional

Glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons hot water

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Spread melted butter all over dough. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough. Sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, or raisins if desired. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.

Coat the bottom of baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.

Meanwhile, mix butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches desired consistency. Spread over slightly cooled rolls.

Icing Recipe

(This can be found by typing this link into your browser http://southernfood.about.com/od/icingrecipes/r/bl30222l.html)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sift before measuring
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, soft
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk

Preparation: Combine all icing ingredients in small mixing bowl. Stir until smooth and well blended. Adjust for spreading consistency if necessary, adding more milk or more confectioners' sugar. Spread icing or drizzle on warm cookies or pound cake.

ENJOY YOUR KING CAKES OR PURCHASE ONE FROM A LOUISIANA BAKERY. THIS IS A GREAT WAY TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE MARDI GRAS SEASON EVEN IF YOU CAN NOT MAKE YOUR WAY TO LOUISIANA.

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    • profile image

      Kaylyn 2 years ago

      A million thanks for posting this inirtmaofon.

    • profile image

      Lillah 2 years ago

      Thanky Thanky for all this good inritmafoon!

    • profile image

      Kayleen 2 years ago

      Heck of a job there, it abustolely helps me out.

    • mpoche4 profile image
      Author

      Michal 5 years ago from Baton Rouge, LA

      Thank you! I am having a party to have friends over to decorate some next

      month!

    • mpoche4 profile image
      Author

      Michal 5 years ago from Baton Rouge, LA

      Thanks!! I feel the same way!! Can u tell I am dieting by my hub topics? I write ab what I am hungry for!!

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 5 years ago from New Delhi India

      Wow beautiful picture..made my mouth water.

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

      Nice tradition and the cake looks delicious.

    • mpoche4 profile image
      Author

      Michal 5 years ago from Baton Rouge, LA

      MarleneB- yes you can order them- a lot of people in the south send them to clients in the north (or family). There are MANY different places you can order from and all are really different. If You plan on ordering any let me know! Any of the ones I suggested are delicious though!

    • mpoche4 profile image
      Author

      Michal 5 years ago from Baton Rouge, LA

      Thanks DemiMonde!! My sister was the one that recommended this idea to me!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 5 years ago from Northern California, USA

      Great hub about King Cakes. Like DemiMonde, I like the mini King Cake idea. Also, it never occurred to me that I could order King Cakes online.

    • DemiMonde profile image

      Demi 5 years ago from Mobile, Alabama

      Love the mini King cake idea; I have never thought of that!