Mardi Gras and King Cake
Even though Mardi Gras isn’t the most widely celebrated holiday in America, most people have at least heard of it. Depending on the person, it is often used as an excuse to party and drink, but what exactly is Mardi Gras? Common knowledge of Mardi Gras includes something about a King Cake, New Orleans, and fun parties, but is that all there is to it?
Mardi Gras originated in medieval Europe, with a brief appearance in Italy before flourishing and becoming famous in France. Although there is discrepancy on why the holiday was created, it is believed to have been created as a celebration of “Boeuf Gras” or “fatted calf”, meaning the people were essentially celebrating healthy animals to be butchered. Years went by, and the tradition slowly began to evolve to include food, drinks, and huge celebrations for everyone’s well-being. Eventually, it made its way to New Orleans by 1730. By the early 1740’s, the governor of Louisiana, Marquis de Vaudreuil, organized formal Mardi Gras themed society balls which became the foundation for the new holiday.
By 1830, Mardi Gras had taken off. New Orleans streets were lined with torches, symbolizing romance and festivity. By 1870, newspapers were beginning to announce Mardi Gras events before they happened, and participation greatly increased. Today, Mardi Gras is celebrated mostly in New Orleans, making appearances in other big cities as well.
So, what is King Cake? If you have heard of Mardi Gras, you’ve probably heard of something called “King Cake”. King Cake is an oval shaped cake decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors, purple, green, and gold. King Cake always has a tiny (usually plastic) baby to symbolize baby Jesus. The person who receives the piece of cake that contains the plastic baby Jesus, is responsible for hosting next year’s gathering. King Cake is like no other. It’s a special flavor only to be found during Mardi Gras. The cake is made up of strands of cinnamon dough covered with sugar, Mardi Gras themed sprinkles, and icing. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make your own king cake, check out our recipe and get everything you need delivered in minutes from Max Delivery.
Ingredients for the Cake:
• 1 cup of warm milk, around 115 °F.
• ½ cup of granulated sugar
• 2 tablespoons of dry yeast
• 3 and ¾ cup of flour
• 1 cup of melted butter
• 5 egg yolks, beaten
• 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
• 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
• sprinkle of nutmeg
• 1 plastic baby to hide in the cake after its done
Ingredients for the icing:
• 2 cups of powdered sugar
• ¼ cup of condensed milk
• 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
• purple, green, and gold sprinkles
Directions for cake:
To make the cake, pour the warm milk into a bowl. Whisk granulated sugar, yeast, and a tablespoon of flour into the milk until the sugar and yeast are dissolved. Once the milk begins to foam, whisk in the butter, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Next, add the remaining flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir it with a spatula (NOT a mixer). After the dough forms and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, shape it into a large ball. Next, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 15 minutes. It should be smooth and easy to pull apart at this point. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover it, and set it aside to let it rise until the dough has doubled in volume. This should take about 90 minutes. Finally, preheat the oven to 375°F. Then, and cut it into three equal pieces. Roll each of the three pieces of dough to make long, skinny strands, all equal in length and width. Braid the 3 strands of dough around each other to form one large strand of dough, and gently lay the braided loaf on a nonstick cookie sheet. Make the front end and the back end of the loaf touch each other on the cookie sheet so it forms an oval shape. Let the braided dough rise for about 30 minutes, or until it doubles in size. After it doubles in size, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until it is golden brown. Allow the cake to cool before icing it. To make the icing, whisk the powdered sugar, condensed milk, and lemon juice together until the icing is smooth and easily spreadable. Once the cake is cool, flip it over and tuck the plastic baby into the bottom of the cake (it’s okay to rip the cake). Flip the cake over and spread icing on the top and decorate it with sprinkles.