In my carefree youth, my friends and I would pile into a car and make a yearly pilgrimage to New Orleans to celebrate what may be the best party in the world. We’d eat mountains of crawfish, drink too many hurricanes and line up with thousands of others to enjoy the many parades snaking through the streets on a daily basis as Mardi Gras approached, shouting “Throw me something, mister!” in hopes of catching colorful strands of plastic beads thrown from the floats. If you’ve never gone, it’s one for the bucket list.
Even if you’re not making the trip this year, you can still celebrate the last hurrah before Lent by throwing your own Mardi Gras party. Get plastic beads to distribute, stock the bar and be sure to bake up what is probably the most iconic food of the holiday: The King Cake.
A tradition since the late 1800s, king cake is a sweetened bread, shaped into a ring and decorated in green, yellow and purple (the official colors of Mardi Gras). Hidden inside the seasonal cake is a coveted prize in the form of a small figure of a baby. Once made of gold, but more commonly plastic these days, the reveler who finds the trinket in the cake will enjoy good luck in the year ahead and will share their good fortune by providing a king cake at the next Mardi Gras party.
If you found the baby in the cake last year or you’re kicking off a new tradition, this recipe for an easy-to-make king cake will set the tone in sweet style at any Mardi Gras celebration. Laissez les bons temps rouler!