It’s King Cake season, and one local bakery has them fresh daily from now until March 1, Mardi Gras Day.
King Cakes are a delectable treat enjoyed during the Mardi Gras season, from the Feast of the Epiphany to Ash Wednesday each year—important days on the Catholic calendar that bookend the carnival season in the U.S. The cake’s lineage can be traced back to the European Middle Ages and, historically, the cake was served to celebrate the Epiphany, honoring the biblical Three Wise Men and their visit to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
The inspiration for the Louisiana version arrived in the early 1700s or late 1800s and, today, the cake is a much-sought-after treat during one of the most festive times of year in the New Orleans French Quarter.
You can get your own King Cake right here in Morgantown at Phoenix Bakery, and the local recipe seems pretty authentic.
“You can usually order them up until the day before Mardi Gras, if we aren’t too busy,” says bakery co-owner Danny Hoover. “We started making them because we had a few customers ask about them. They looked like they would be fun to make—and eat—so we did. They get a little more popular every year.”
Order a cake of your own this year to commemorate the carnival season—and impress everyone at the table with King Cake trivia:
- Most King Cakes come with a small plastic baby either already stuffed inside the cake or loose in the packaging so that you can do the stuffing. It’s meant to symbolize the baby Jesus, and whoever ends up with the piece of cake containing it is blessed with good luck and fortune.
- Good fortune might be welcomed, since the recipient of the hidden baby is expected to buy the next King Cake for the group to enjoy.
- It’s common in Louisiana to indulge in dozens of King Cakes in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras Day, and they’re incredibly popular in schools and businesses.
- The classic version of the King Cake—and the recipe that Phoenix Bakery follows—tastes much like a cinnamon roll. Modern versions of the cake have incorporated a wide assortment of delicious fillings, from lemon to praline.
- Traditional cakes are usually decorated with icing and sanding sugar in three colors—green, gold, and purple. The green symbolizes faith, the gold stands for power, and the purple signifies justice.