Let Us Eat Cake

King Cake purchased from Rouses in Houma, LA, from Wikipedia

This morning my boss sent out an e-mail, inviting us to partake of the King Cake he had in his office. The e-mail reminded me that it’s Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) today and that I had no idea what a King Cake is.

Turns out the King Cake tradition (which started about 300 years ago in France) honors the Kings who came to worship the infant Jesus. The three colors often sprinkled on modern King Cakes represent justice (purple), faith, (green), and power (gold).

Properly done, a group will come together each week between Christmas and the Tuesday before the beginning of Ash Wednesday to partake of this reminder of Christ’s birth. The cake usually contains a favor (originally a bean, la fève) within, and whoever gets the piece of cake with the favor bakes the cake for the next week. Since many folks purchase King Cake for Mardi Gras, the favor in modern cakes is usually a tiny plastic baby on top of the cake, since there is no need to determine who gets the privilege/task of baking the cake for the upcoming week.

While some Mardi Gras traditions are not consistent with the commandments, the King Cake tradition can be a way to brighten the cold, dark days between Christmas and spring. I know my family will welcome a Christ-focused food tradition to weeks that have previously been void of any “fun.”

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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but that Emma was right to assert she had been Joseph's only true wife.

2 thoughts on “Let Us Eat Cake

  1. The cake was the traditional (yummy) bread ring with icing, sprinkled with colors.

    As the Wikipedia entry explains, “The king cake of the Louisiana tradition comes in a number of styles. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted cinnamon roll-style dough. It may be topped with icing or sugar, which may be colored to show the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, yellow, and purple. King cakes may also be filled with additional fillings, the most common being cream cheese, praline, cinnamon, or strawberry.”

    Another tradition is to form the cake into sections. “the cake was divided into as many shares as there were guests, plus one. The latter, called ‘the share of God,’ ‘share of the Virgin Mary,’ or ‘share of the poor’ was intended for the first poor person to arrive at the home.”

    The Joy of Cooking has a recipe for a Easter bread which they suggest be formed in the shape of a rabbit, and which I vaguely remember would be topped with icing. Or maybe that’s a dough for forming rolls assembled in the form of a Christmas Tree. At any rate, there are various cake or bread recipes that would lend themselves to being used to form a King Cake.

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