King cake season has begun, so why do so many people enjoy eating them and how did this tradition get started? What does it mean if someone finds ‘the baby’ in his or her piece of king cake?
For more information about food, wine and dining in Houston, listen to Cleverley’s radio show Saturdays at Noon on Talk 650 AM. (By the way, she gives out prizes on every radio show!)
The 2011 King Cake season started on January 6 and will end on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), March 8.
Anyone can make a King Cake from scratch (with the recipe below) by getting a store-bought coffee cake ring and decorating it or by purchasing a complete King Cake from a bakery.
For anyone making a king cake from scratch or making the semi-homemade version, remember the toy baby needs to be inserted into the bottom of the cake before serving. This is an important part of the King Cake tradition.
Whoever finds the baby in their piece of cake is the king or queen for the day and should host the next King Cake party. Before eating the cake, guests should be notified that there might be a toy baby in it and they should use caution when biting into their piece of cake.
King Cake Recipe (yields 3 cakes)
Source: Rao’s Bakery
5 lbs Danish Flour
1 quart of water
1/3 oz instant yeast
1. Mix ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
2. Scrape bowl, removing dough
3. Divide dough in 3 equal sections.
4. Take one section and roll it flat onto lightly floured cutting board
5. Spread filling on it.
6. Use pizza cutter to cut flat dough into 3 long strips.
7. Braid 3 strips then form into a circle. Repeat with remaining 2 sections of dough.
8. Let circles rest so that yeast can rise.
9. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and let cool before icing.
10 pounds of chopped up coffee cake, Danish or other pastries
3.5 lbs of butter
3.5 lbs sugar
1 gallon water
2 lbs cinnamon
1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
2. Spread onto prepared dough, as above.
3 Five lb boxes of granulated sugar
One each tubes of gel food coloring: yellow, green, purple
1. Mix one box of sugar with one gel color. Add color to intensity of your choice. You should have 3 separate bowls, each with its own color.
2. On cooled cake, spread each color equally in 3 sections on top of cake.
3. If desired before decorating cake, you may insert a small toy baby. Gently turn cake over and insert baby from the bottom of cake. Turn cake right side up, and decorate.