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King Cake

The king cake tradition came to New Orleans around 1870 from French settlers and dates back to the twelfth century in France.  This cake is made during Mardi Gras season and despite contrary belief, Mardi Gras is actually a religious celebration.  King cake is made from a cinnamon filled dough formed and baked in the shape of a circle or large oval.  It is then decorated with three different sanding sugars, which all have their own representation.  Gold is for power, purple is for justice and green is for faith.  The cakes are prepared for the period between the Twelfth Night, or January 6th (twelve nights after Christmas) and Ash Wednesday.  The practice of placing a small plastic baby inside the cake began in the mid 1900s as a symbol of the birth of Christ.  It is customary for the person who finds the baby in the cake to purchase the next king cake and host the next year's Mardi Gras party.