Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

Feb 12th, 2010 by Gemma

Mardi Gras is in the air, Fat Tuesday is nearly upon us, it truly is time to let the good times roll.

Come celebrate this time of year with a New Orleans favourite, the King Cake.

An enriched coffee cake style dough rolled up with cinnamon sugar and braided into a round. Topped with icing and coloured sugar, coloured of course in the Mardi Gras colours; purple, green and gold (for justice, faith and power respectively).

Mardi Gras runs from Epiphany until Fat Tuesday (the day before Lent), so it is no surprise that the history of the King Cake has roots in Christian tradition (and Pagan before that, but that’s a whole other story involving harvest and blood sacrifices). Traditionally baked on Twelfth night as a celebration of the Kings finding the baby Jesus, a bean would be placed inside bringing luck to whoever found it.

While the Twelfth Night customs that spread throughout Europe were subject to numerous variations, one element transcended virtually every culture that observed the holiday: the choice of a mock king for the occasion. In the case of the King Cake the person who found a bean, or a coin, in his piece was the lucky King (or Queen) for the night. Sometimes they picked their own partner, sometimes Fate picked for them, and a pea secreted in the cake conferred the honour on its finder. The temporary change in status was sustained with ceremony; the King was given a crown, the authority to call the toasts and lead the drinking and, sometimes, the more dubious privilege of paying the bill on the morning after. It is believed the cake is round to resemble a crown.

In time the bean was replaced by a porcelain doll, which in turn gave way to a plastic “baby” the Queen was obligated to have the party the following week. The young man she designated to be her King was responsible for supplying the king cake.

That is one tradition that has made it through the years, the finder of the baby gets to host the next party or provide the next King Cake, or maybe even both.

So let your hair down, join the celebration and come have some cake with us, and above all Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

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