Watching my first Mardi Gras parade in the French Quarter from atop my cousin's shoulders is a memory I love to conjure up. Right there with that parade, I also recall my first bite of king cake. Similar to coffee cake, this ring-shaped confection is as rich in tradition and history as it is in color and taste. When preparing a king cake recipe, use the trademark decorations–sugars in the royal colors of purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power)–honor the three kings who visited the Christ child on Epiphany, the 12th day after Christmas. Also known as King's Day, it marks the start of merrymaking that continues until the grand finale on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.
It's my hope that the streets of New Orleans and other cities along the Southern coast will again be filled with the magic of Mardi Gras. So no matter where you live, I hope you will join me in a toast to our friends on the Gulf Coast with your favorite beverage and a piece of king cake.
Don't Feel Like Baking?
If you're looking for a king cake recipe, Traditional King Cake received the highest Test Kitchens rating from Southern Living. It's really worth making, but we've also provided some mail-order options.
- Gambino's Bakery: 4821 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, LA 70003; (504) 885-7500, 1-800-426-2466, or www.gambinos.com.
- Julie Anne's Bakery & Cafe: 825 Kings Highway, Shreveport, LA 71104; (318) 424-4995.
- Pollman's Bake Shops: 750 South Broad Street, Mobile, AL 36603; (251) 438-1511.
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