Mardi Gras King Cake
Making a king cake is so much fun! There is a certain giddy feeling you get from brashly tossing brightly colored sanding sugar onto a cake, it sort of takes you back to being five again. And while there is a lot of history and tradition surrounding a king cake, it is New Orleans based which means that no rules are followed but king cake will be eaten and a celebration will be had!
You should take this to mean that there is no such thing as the perfect king cake. If you want a true feel for New Orleans look up pictures from a king cake competition. You will have the perfectly round king cake, the braided cake, the one topped with so many mardi gras necklaces you’re likely to swallow a bead by mistake, and then there’s the ones shaped kind of like an oval… This I can only assume is because someone got halfway through making their king cake and realized the only pan large enough was a rectangular cookie sheet. And because they are New Orleans born and raised, the funniest looking king cake will be proudly displayed and eaten along with the rest.
From January 6th to Ash Wednesday is Carnival Season and you can find the locals of New Orleans making, baking and eating as many king cakes as they can get their hands on. The king cake is a celebration of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem following the French Catholic history of New Orleans and either a tiny, plastic baby or a dried bean is hidden in the cake. Whoever finds it has to bring the next king cake or throw the next party. Neat huh?
I personally can’t get over how fun the “royal” colors are on the top. The three colors (of course) stand for something; Purple for justice, Green for faith and Gold for power. And although you may have to do a little hunting to find the right colors of sanding sugar rest assured it’s worth the effort! This king cake is my take on the classic, I think the cream cheese filling adds character and the lemon just brightens everything. But feel free to make it your own, after all following the rules isn’t a very New Orleans thing to do at all…