A cake fit for a king

King cake

Fat Tuesday, the capstone of the Carnival season in New Orleans, is tomorrow. Because it is the last day before Lent begins, people often indulge before they begin their Lenten abstention. In New Orleans, that involves eating king cake. King cake is to Mardi Gras as  pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving: the holiday just wouldn't be the same without it.

Although it's called a cake, king cake is more like a sweet bread. Laced with cinnamon, the cake if often shaped like a braid or a crown. It's also frequently decorated with sugar tinted in the three colors associated with Mardi Gras: gold for power, green for faith, and purple for justice.

A tiny plastic baby is hidden in the cake. This tradition stems from the cake's religious origins, but today the concept is much more secular. If you are the lucky person who gets the baby in your piece of cake, you are named "King" for a day and are required by custom to host the next party and provide the King Cake.

If you can't make it to New Orleans or if your local bakeries don't offer king cake, you can make it yourself. The EYB Library contains 27 recipes for king cake, including How to make a king cake for Mardi Gras from indexed blog The Kitchn, pictured above. 

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