Oh yes, it's that time of year again. King Cake time. As many of you know I treasure the days when we all feast on the yumminess known as "King cake".
A little bit of King cake history for your knowledge bank:
The name "King cake" comes from the Bibical three kings, or the three wise men. Their journey to Bethlehem took twelve days...the twelve days of Christmas, and they arrived to honor the Christ child on Epiphany...January 6th. The season for king cake extends from the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (Twelfth Night or Epiphany Day), through to Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) day.
Some of you may ask...why on earth is there a naked little baby in my cake? Christian cultures say that the baby is in fact the Baby Jesus. Originally a bean was hidden in the cake. The person who got the bean or baby was declared the King or Queen of the day. Sometimes there are separate cakes for the males and females; the one for women is sometimes called a Loomis Cake. The king or queen is usually obligated to supply the next king cake or host the next party.
When my family lived in Lafayette, Louisiana we always got excited when Mardi Gras came around. We would get together with the other neighborhood families and have several Mardi Gras parties during the season. We would dress up like kings and queens and have mini parades with our decorated bikes and wagons. Then we would throw beads or candy to the bystanders. Ah, were we living the life. We would also go to many of the local parades that had huge colorful floats with different themes. You had to yell "Throw me something Mister" if you wanted beads or candy to come your way. After one float would pass we would all regroup and wait with anticipation for the next float. And the bands, dang were they good! Everyone would be dancing in the streets when those bands came around. Good times!
I made a king cake this weekend using a recipe I got from http://www.allrecipes.com/. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it turned out. I followed the recipe pretty religiously, except I added my own cream cheese filling along with their streusal one, and omitted the nuts and raisins. I mixed one box of softened cream cheese with three cups of powdered sugar and spread it right alongside the streusal. My family loved it and it was gone within hours. (see above picture) One important tip is that the water temp is crucial...if your water is too hot or too cold the yeast won't work properly. I encourage the use of a thermometer whenever you are making any kind of bread. Happy Mardi Gras to all, and to all a good night.