It may still be cold and gloomy in Jersey, but in N’Awlins it’s already spring and Mardi Gras is right around the corner! We can’t match their weather, but we can indulge in one of the most delicious traditional treats of the season… King Cake!
For the unfamiliar, New Orleans King Cake is the ultimate symbol of Mardi Gras. According to NOLA.com, not just any cake can claim the status of bakery royalty.
The four essential elements needed for a cake to be considered a king cake in New Orleans:
- A slightly sweet cake, baked in an oval or circle.
- Purple, green and gold sugar crystals or icing.
- A plastic baby or some other token tucked inside.
- And, the confection needs to be sold or baked between Kings’ Day, always Jan. 6, and Mardi Gras, which is a moveable holiday.
Originally a French creation, the cake was brought to the territories by early settlers who made it their own. The cake itself is also chock full of symbolism, according to SimpleMost.
The cake comes in three colors—purple, green and gold—and each of these colors represents a different virtue: purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power.
And don’t forget the baby inside. Not a real, live baby. (Thank goodness.)
The baby is meant to represent the baby Jesus. However, the tradition of the hidden “cake baby” actually has pagan roots.
The ancient Romans would put a single bean into their festival cakes, and the lucky person who found it in their portion would be “King”… for a day. The same is true for the baby in a King Cake, with one small addition. If you find the baby in your serving of King Cake, it’s also your responsibility to bake the cake next year!
We don’t necessarily need to be King… but we would like a piece of that cake!