What Is King Cake and What's The Deal With That Plastic Baby?

Even though we may not all be able to afford to eat like royalty, we can at least pretend with a King Cake during Mardi Gras. It won't make you a ruler overnight, but the decadent flavors and festive designs will make you feel like shopping for a throne. But what is a King Cake? And are us commoners and queens allowed to consume one? Also...what's with that baby? He's looking at us weird.

This sweet, circular flour-based cake is a traditional treat served on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. You usually make it in a Bundt pan to mimic the shape of a crown, and features a cinnamon or fruit filling. Then, you top it with icing, which is often decorated in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold, representing justice, faith, and power.

This dessert is enjoyed throughout the Carnival season which begins on January 6th, 12 days after Christmas. It's also called the Twelfth Night or Epiphany. Christians believe that this is when Jesus first showed himself to the world and the three wise men.

There's a tradition of putting a small plastic baby figurine in the cake to represent Jesus and the Epiphany. And if you're worried about the fact that plastic tends to melt in hot temperatures, don't worry – most of these babies are now added into cake after it's baked. If you get the piece containing the baby, congratulations! That's good luck.

Assuming you don't live near NOLA and don't feel like taking a road trip, there are some other options to get your hands on this coveted cake. You can order one from Manny Randazzo in New Orleans, Paul's Pastry Shop in Mississippi, or choose from one of the many shops on Goldbelly.

Take your pick between a cinnamon filling or cream cheese filling in this recipe. Lactose intolerant friends...please be smart.

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