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We didn’t import the iconic cake from Joe Gambino’s Bakery in Louisiana. We got ours at Federhofer’s Bakery in South County. I gotta say, it compared favorably with those I’ve eaten from the Gulf region.
The crown-shaped delicacy abounds with religious symbolism. It’s served following Epiphany (January 6), the day marking the arrival of the Wise Men twelve days after Christmas.
The celebration and feasting conclude on February 2 with Mardi Gras, (which means Fat Tuesday in French). The next day, Ash Wednesday, ushers in the leaner days of Lent, leading up to Easter.
Well, that’s probably as much church catechism as you want in a food blog, but I think it’s good to know the background for a cooking tradtion.
Unique to the King Cake (so named for the kings involved in the Christmas narrative) is the tiny figure of the baby Jesus hidden in the cake. The finder is crowned king/queen of the party and is expected to buy the next cake and/or host next year’s event.
Hmm . . . so the “losers” get to eat cake and await their invitation to the next feast?
King Cake in a Mix
While I’ve not made the wreath-shaped cake, a friend in Jefferson City sent me photos of the one she made last year. Rather than make it from scratch as she usually did, she used a King Cake kit from World Market. It comes with the dry ingredients, colorful glaze, and plastic figurine.
There’s still time to enjoy the festivities, so grab a cake and a few friends and celebrate. You can find King Cakes at La Patisserie Chouquette; Federhofer Bakery; Whole Foods; Diana’s Bakery; Missouri Baking Company; and Pint Size Bakery.