Drizzled with icing, sprinkled with green, gold, and purple sugars, this stunning cake also features a secret surprise--a little plastic toy baby baked into the pastry! Pick the piece with the toy baby inside, and you're crowned king or queen of the party!
Fit for a King
Types of king cakes vary from baker to baker, and can be coffee cake-style pastries or sweet bread-like desserts.
To hide the toy baby into the cake, insert it into a slice while the cake is still slightly warm from baking. The icing and sugar decoration should cover your tracks. If you're worried about a choking hazard, substitute an orange wedge or pecan halves for the toy.
A French Fable
The king cake tradition began in France in the 19th century, and honors the Christian story of the three kings traveling with gifts for the Christ child. The cake's three colors represent justice (purple), faith (green), and power (gold). The cake's ring shape, too, is significant, symbolizing the unity of all Christians as well as the shape of a king's crown.
Before plastic toy babies, bakers added dried peas, coins, pecans, or beans in the cake to bestow wealth, luck, and to pick the Mardi Gras king and queen. Today people of all faiths enjoy king cakes between Twelfth Night (Epiphany) and Mardi Gras.