Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This Is SO NOT Bourbon Street


Hey, I think it's been almost two weeks since I mentioned that my mom's from New Orleans*. So yeah, did you know that my mom's from New Orleans? (In case you missed it the first five times I said it.) And did you also know what New Orleans is most famous for? Well, actually, now it's probably most famous for that bitch Katrina, but before that, it was most famous for Mardi Gras.

Yes, Mardi Gras. That fabulously bacchanalian festival in which all Catholics (and these days, everyone else of any religious background--ecumenical binge-drinking!) let loose and do all the indulgent, sinful things they aren't allowed to do during Lent. Judging by the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, those things include drinking until you vomit and flashing complete strangers in exchange for cheap plastic beads.

I have never actually participated in that particular aspect of Mardi Gras myself. The last time I attended Mardi Gras, I was four years old, dressed as a clown, and took the elevator in my great-aunt's apartment building down all by myself, thereby sending my parents into full-on panic mode, because then I got off the elevator, and they couldn't find me . . . but they did eventually, and we all lived happily ever after.

So, not exactly Girls Gone Wild material.

However, we always had our own Mardi Gras tradition. A much more innocent, wholesome tradition that involves ingesting pastries dripping with sugar. I speak, of course, of King Cake.

I will not go into the history and symbolism of King Cake, because you can read all of that here. But I will just mention that there is a small plastic baby baked into the cake (symbolizing Jesus, and the person who finds it has to provide the King Cake for the next year) and the cake is actually more like an egg bread and is always covered in diabetes-inducing quantities of sugar in the Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold.

Now that that's out of the way, I would also like to mention that the only King Cakes I had ever had were purchased at a bakery. I have never, ever heard of anyone baking a King Cake themselves. My grandmother, Duchess, would always buy us a King Cake at the bakery a few blocks from her house and have it shipped to us wherever we were living. No one ever, EVER, baked one.

Did I mention ever?

Enter that crazy Yankee, the MiL. She had some extra egg yolks and decided to make a King Cake. Except she said she would just do the bread part of it, and then the icing of it would be up to me, because she could not bring herself to put that much sugar on anything. So I did. Yesterday.

It was a pain in the ass. I only had green and red sugar sprinkles, plus The World's Most Ancient Food Coloring. So I used the green, then mixed some yellow Ancient Food Coloring with white sugar, which looked okay. But purple . . . um, yeah. Not so much purple as a putrid shade of maroon that resulted when I added blue Ancient Food Coloring to red sugar sprinkles. It wasn't quite the color of royalty that I was going for.



The King's Cake appears to have a gnarly skin disease.


But forget how it looks (please). The real question is how does it taste? It tastes fantastic. Especially when you warm it up a little and put a little butter on it. Because there can never be enough butter. It is definitely not as sweet as the King Cakes I'm accustomed to, but that's probably a good thing. NO ONE needs to eat as much sugar as bakeries put on King Cakes.

So, yes, a King Cake can, indeed, be baked in a home kitchen. At least, if the MiL is in that kitchen. It goes without saying that this is probably not something I will ever attempt on my own. I leave these things to the professionals. And if this example of my skill with colored sugars is any indication, I should leave the decorating up to the professionals, as well. I'll just stick to the eating. Works for me.

* And don't forget, in the interest of equality: My dad is from Wisconsin. Go Packers!

18 comments:

Melissa said...

My MiL told me they don't bake the babies in the cakes anymore because they're afraid someone will choke & someone will get sued. So the last time she brought up a king cake, a little baby came with it & one of us had to insert it with their finger while the rest of us weren't looking. Somehow this just took the excitement out of the whole thing for me...but I did enjoy me some sugary king cake.

Susan said...

I think it looks great! Color me, (snort!) impressed!

Mayberry Magpie said...

Mmmmmmm, sugary skin disease. I'll take some!

And Melissa's sad story is EXACTLY why we must bake King Cake at home. It all started with that damn McDonald's coffee.

Black Thumb Girl said...

I'm not Catholic, but I still love me some delicious King Cake around this time of year.

And I don't think your cake looks bad at all - I think it looks delicious, like eating a Jackson Pollock painting! :D

Phoo-D said...

I'm bet it tastes great! What a fun tradition. You should submit the photo to Cake Wrecks for kicks and giggles. =)

The Management said...

best of both worlds! king cake followed by gloriously perfect fish fry that i'm sure your father's traditions brought with him.

Krysta said...

so... did MiL put a little baby jesus in there? and if someone cannot feel that there is something plastic in their mouth knowing full well that there is a little plastic baby in the cake that they could quite possibly have a piece of deserves to choke.

Kristin said...

Oh, right. I forgot to mention that we had one of the plastic babies from a King Cake sent to us a few years ago, so the MiL did bake it in. And if any of us chokes, there will be no law suits. Only laughter.

Amanda said...

I grew up in New Orleans (17 years) and quite honestly, it looks like a perfectly fine king to me. Just out of curiosity, where did your grandmother get the king cake? I can bet you it wasn't Mckenzie's, theirs were terrible. Haydel, Angelo's, or Randazzo's are good bets.

Kristin said...

Amanda: I really don't know. She lived in Metairie, actually, but I have no idea the name of the bakery. I haven't received one from her in years, so it's been awhile. My mom might weigh in here, though--she could probably tell you.

FinnyKnits said...

That looks gross. But, I'd eat it because of all the sugar you promised. And butter, too. NOT SMART BALANCE.

;)

Also, my word verification is "bitable". I guess Blogger likes your cake.

moi said...

The king Cake is from Haydel... and I still order one from there every year from New Orleans for my Mardi Gras celebration....

Kristin's sister

tu mere said...

And here I thought I'd finally be able to answer a question correctly on a blog. Sigh. However, that's OK, since it was 1st born child that beat me to the punch and was right on target with her answer.

Kristin's Mom

rls said...

I actually just had to go Google "Mardi Gras 2009" to find out when it was. I thought maybe it was today... you can see how I could have been confused, today being Tuesday and all.

So who ended up with the baby? And are you really allowed to eat the cake now? You don't have to save it for The Day Itself? (Which is Feb. 24th, in case anyone else is wondering....)

The Country Experience said...

Kristin, I was all set to be supportive (because that's what I do) until I got to the "gnarly skin disease" and snorted, lol. Because I was going to say the colors didn't look that off to me until you mentioned skin diseases and I could just see the flesh- rotting color in the darker black/purple....

As far as the flashing people for cheap plastic beads--never have seen the allure of it. I'll go buy my own damned beads if I want 'em that badly. But maybe I never drank enough.

Kristin said...

RLS: A King Cake may be consumed any time between Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, and Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday. I was actually going to save this one for Fat Tuesday, but the MiL made it awhile ago and put it in our big chest freezer. Then I had to make room in the freezer for yet MORE meat, so out came the King Cake. But we're still within the allowable timeframe, so no worries.

Amanda said...

I grew up in (Old) Metairie. At Vincent and Geranium.
Oh, Haydels (swoons a little)

Amanda said...

I grew up in (Old) Metairie. At Vincent and Geranium.
Oh, Haydels (swoons a little)