Mardis Gras King Cake Recipe
Next Tuesday is Mardi Gras – meaning “Fat Tuesday” in French – and it’s the last hurrah before the Season of Lent begins (on Ash Wednesday)! If you’ve ever wanted to find an easy and yummy Mardis Gras King Cake recipe – we’ve got a great one for you
For many, Ash Wednesday signals the start of a season that includes fasting, moderation, spiritual discipline and repentance in preparation for Easter. However, Mardis Gras is all about merrymaking and getting rid of all that yummy food in the house… by eating it!
King Cake is a popular part of the Mardi Gras festivities – and while you can make it from scratch using yeast (like the pretty one pictured above), here’s an easy recipe using crescent rolls. “King Cake” is a traditional coffee-like-cake inside of which you hide a plastic baby (representing baby Jesus – our King & Savior). Whoever ends up with that piece is King for the Day and will have good luck for the whole year!
(Scroll down further to ead more interesting tidbits about King Cakes, Fat Tuesday and more!)
- 2 Rolls of Crescent Rolls
- Either use canned pie filling of your choice
- 1/2 block cream cheese (4 oz)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup pecan halves (optional)
- 1/4 cup raisins soaked in hot water 15 minutes, patted dry (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 tsp teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
- Food Coloring or Colored Sugar: Purple (=Justice), Green (=Faith) and Gold (=Power)
- Preheat oven to 350, spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
- Unroll crescent dough and pull apart the triangles. One by one lie them in a circle with points to the center. Each triangle will need to overlap the one before it by about 1/4".
- Press the middle of these seams together with your fingertips - but don't press too close to where the points are, or where the edges are, because you'll be lifting those to fold them in a minute.
- Spoon the filling onto a ring - midway between the center points and the outer edge.
- Place a plastic baby somewhere in the filling.
- Now, lift up the inside point of each crescent triangle, starting with the last one you placed on the sheet. (That one won't have another roll on top of it) One at a time, fold it inward so it lies over the filling. (See picture above)
- Next, take the outside edge of each crescent triangle, and one at a time, fold it over towards the center of the ring so the filling is completely encased. It should make a pretty crescent wreath.
- Bake for 20 -25 minutes and let cool.
- Now spoon your prepared colored icing over the King Cake, allowing it to drip down the sides.
- Serve, making sure to warn your guests about the plastic baby :)
More fun facts about Mardi Gras, Carnival & King Cakes!
King Cakes began in France in the 12th century – and are made in a circle (legend has it) to represent the circular route the Wise Men took on their journey to find the baby Jesus (to fool King Herod and ruin his plans to kill the child). In Catholic tradition, the solemnity of Epiphany falls on January 6th – and celebrates the Magi coming to visit Jesus in the manger. From this time until Mardis Gras (Fat Tuesday – the day before Lenten fasting begins) King Cake is a popular treat.
Mardi Gras is the last day to “fatten up” before the season of Lent and marks the end of the season of Carnival. The word Carnival actually means “Saying goodbye to the flesh”. Mardi Gras is also known as “Shrove Tuesday” – which comes from the word shrive meaning “Confess”. Again, all part of the preparing our hearts for the Easter Season.
The one who finds the King in their slice of cake is said to have good luck in the coming year and is pronounced “King of the Feast”. When celebrating with other adults – the one who finds it will have to make the next King Cake. In Mexico – the one who finds the baby Jesus must prepare the tamales for the Candlemas feast.
Sometimes there will be a King Cake and a Queen Cake in order to pronounce a King & Queen of the feast.
Have you ever heard of Mardi Gras being referred to as “Pancake Tuesday”? No? Me either! But apparently that’s another name for it – and here’s why, according to Wikipedia:
Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: In many cultures, this means no meat, dairy, or eggs.
In England, the “Pancake Race” is still popular to this day, as participants run through the streets with frying pans flipping pancakes and catching them!
I could see making a pancake dinner on Mardi Gras – that might become a fun new tradition!
If you want to find out more about Lent – read our post on Ash Wednesday and Lent HERE!