History of the King Cake

In European countries, the coming of the Wise Men bearing gifts to the Christ Child is celebrated twelve days after Christmas. The celebration, called Epiphany, Little Christmas or the Twelfth Night, is a time for exchanging gifts and feasting.

All over the world people gather for festive twelfth night celebrations. One of the most popular customs still practiced is the baking of a special cake in honor of the three kings, a “King Cake”.

In Europe, a coin or bean is hidden inside the cake and the person receiving the object must portray one of the Kings. Latin-Americans put a small figure inside the cake representing the Christ Child. It is said that a year of good fortune awaits the lucky person who gets the figure.

Louisianians perpetuate the celebration by having the person who received the baby host the party or purchase the cake the following year. King Cake parties are held between the twelfth day after Christmas and the first day of Lent, ending on Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras.

The New Orleans style King Cake is brightly decorated with Mardi Gras colored sugars: purple, representing justice; green representing faith; gold representing power. In the New Orleans area, the King Cake is prepared and eaten during the Epiphany season, which according to the liturgy of former times, extended from January 6 to the third Sunday before Mardi Gras or more accurately, Ash Wednesday. Nowadays, with the season of the Epiphany no longer observed, King Cakes are nevertheless prepared and consumed all the way to Mardi Gras.

And who knows but that Mardi Gras is nothing else but a throwback to the Epiphany pageantry of the Medieval times, besides being a last “fling” before the penitential season of Lent? The King Cake, as a delicacy, is an appetizing introduction to the carnival activities. So let Ferrier’s Rollin’ in the Dough Bakeshop bake you the best.