King Cake Recipes

Twelfth Night, January 6th, is the traditional start of the Carnival season, and that means King Cake parties in Louisiana. Whoever gets the baby trinket in their piece of King Cake customarily hosts the next King Cake party.
 
In France, the final hurrah of the Christmas season comes with the Epiphany on January 6th (the twelfth day of Christmas). L'Epiphanie, or le jour des Rois, is the feast day celebrating the newborn Christ being visited by the Magi, and since the Middles Ages, the French have fêted Twelfth Night with the galette des rois, the King's Cake. The traditional galette des rois is a round flaky cake filled with delicious frangipane (an almond-flavored paste), and has a figurine, charm or bean hidden inside, referred to in French as la fève. The youngest person in the room gets the high honor of announcing which person gets which tranche (slice) of cake, and the lucky person to bite into her slice and discover la fève is made king, or queen, for the day, and wears a gold paper crown. Lording over all the others, le Roi chooses a royal mate by dropping that fève into the wine glass of a beloved. ~France Today

Usually baked on January 5, the King Cake contains a figurine representing the baby Jesus. The use of porcelain trinkets in New Orleans King Cakes dates to the 1930's. You can order porcelain King Cake babies at Haydel's Bakery or 1-800-442-1342; they also carry porcelain figurines. For other New Orleans traditions, click here.

Plastic babies are unsuitable for children under the age of three. Bakery-quality King Cake babies are available via Accent Annex.

There are as many King Cake recipes as there are bakers; however, there are certain shared characteristics. King Cake is 
  • Historically traced to 12th century France
  • Circular (to represent a crown)
  • Usually a simple but rich yeast dough containing 
  • At least one filling, usually a mixture containing cream cheese 
  • Richly decorated with sugar tinted in the classic Carnival colors-- green, gold and purple (symbolizing faith, power and justice)
  • Served from January 6 and eaten through Fat Tuesday (the day before Lent) in New Orleans 
Some King Cakes have multiple fillings; some are braided. The cake is traditionally cut into 2-inch thick slices with all the guests in attendance. 

You may order King Cakes from Gambino's Bakery or Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery (1-800-684-2253).