The King Cake Tradition, Explained
Americans usher in the new year with diets and lifestyle resolutions galore, but many people across the globe — particularly those from predominantly Catholic countries — celebrate the calendar change with a sweet pastry known as king cake. It first appears in bakery cases at the beginning of each year and can be found at the center of celebrations through early spring. Some associate it with Mardi Gras, others with a celebration known as Epiphany.
King cake is eaten on January 6 in honor of Epiphany, or Twelfth Night, which historically marks the arrival of the three wise men/kings in Bethlehem who delivered gifts to the baby Jesus. (The plastic baby hidden inside king cakes today is a nod to this story.) King cake also appears on tables throughout the Carnival season, which runs from Epiphany to Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent), at which point practitioners typically abstain from such indulgences as cake.
The pastry goes by different names around the world, and comes in varying shapes and styles. Here now, an exploration of the history of this baked good, the traditions surrounding it, and a brief look at king cakes across the globe.
What is king cake?
A sweet, circular pastry, cake, or bread that is the centerpiece of a historically Catholic celebration known as Epiphany, which falls on January 6. Today it takes on many different forms and is found at a variety of similar celebrations with religious origins. Most Americans are likely familiar with Louisiana-style king cakes that consist of a cake-y bread dough twisted into a ring and decorated with colored icing and sprinkles. Variants can be made from cake batter or bread dough or pastry, but almost all versions are shaped into a circle or oval to mimic the appearance of a king’s crown.
Every king cake contains a trinket — often a small figurine in the shape of a baby — which plays a crucial part in the celebration of the holiday that inspired this pastry. Whomever finds the trinket in their slice of cake gets to be the “king” for a day.
Where did it originate?
King cake is said to have originated in Old World France and Spain and came to be associated with Epiphany during the Middle Ages. When it was brought to the New World (along with Catholicism and Christianity), the tradition evolved further.
In New Orleans, king cake and Mardi Gras go hand in hand: The cakes can be found starting in early January and are available up until Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. The symbolic bean or baby baked (or embedded) into the king cake is important to Mardi Gras celebrations because the person who gets the piece containing the baby must host the next year’s celebration.
How is it made?
To make it, sweet dough is twisted into a round and sometimes adorned with colored sugar doughs before being baked. Some versions are split and then filled with cream or fruit; others are topped with candied fruit, icing, and colored sugar. Louisiana-style king cake is almost always decorated in the colors associated with Mardi Gras: green, gold, and purple (representing faith, power, and justice).
Why is there a plastic baby inside my king cake?
While there’s a long history of hiding trinkets inside king cakes, the modern tradition of a small plastic baby started in New Orleans. A commercial bakery called McKenzie's popularized the baby trinket that was baked into cakes back in the 1950s; they were originally made of porcelain but later swapped out for an easier-to-find plastic version. These days the plastic baby figurine is typically sold along with the already-baked cake and hidden by the purchaser, rather than coming baked inside (due to concerns about eating something that’s been baked around a piece of plastic).
The baby inside the king cake is such an important tradition that each year during Carnival, the New Orleans’ NBA team unveils a seasonal King Cake Baby mascot (which is absolutely terrifying, by the way).
What other countries serve king cakes?
In France, galette des rois translates literally as “cake of kings,” and is a flaky pastry cake made from puff pastry that is typically filled with a frangipane almond cream (or occasionally fruit or chocolate). A decorative pattern is scored into the top of it before baking, and sometimes the finished cake is topped with a paper crown. Traditionally, there is a “fève,” or bean, hidden inside.
The king cakes of New Orleans more closely resemble those of Spanish-speaking countries rather than the king cake that originated in France.
Rosca de reyes, served in Spain and Latin America, is a ring-shaped sweet bread that can also be topped with candied fruit, in addition to a light layer of icing.
Bolo rei, the Portuguese version of king cake, is also ring-shaped and is filled with candied fruit and sometimes nuts.
Bulgaria’s banitsa is generally served on New Year’s Eve, and also on other special occasions like weddings or festivals. It consists of sheets of phyllo dough wrapped around soft cheese and it contains charms as well as written fortunes.
The vasilopita in Greece and Cyprus is traditionally served on New Year’s Day, and closely resembles the French galette. It is round and flat with almonds on top that sometimes denote the year. Vasilopita also usually has a coin baked into it.
The common denominator between all of these cakes is that they all have a small trinket or figurine — such as a bean, a coin, a nut, or a tiny baby figurine — hidden inside. Whoever finds the trinket in their slice of cake gets to be “king” for a day and is also said to have good luck.
Where can I get my own king cake?
If you happen to be located in New Orleans, there are bakeries galore selling king cakes — whether you’re in the market for the traditional brioche ring version or something fancied up with peanut butter or bacon. Outside of Louisiana, every major city, particularly if there’s a sizable Catholic presence, will also be home to at least a couple of bakeries catering to king cake lovers this time of year.
And for those who want to go the DIY route, there are no shortage of king cake recipesonline, including quick-and-lazy variations involving canned cinnamon rolls. Just don’t forget to include the baby.
Koenigsegg Unveils Its Revolutionary New $3 Million "Jesko" Supercar At Geneva's Auto Show
The $3 million Jesko, Lean And Mean: Those intakes and the rear spoiler provide the supercar with some 2200 pounds of downforce. At 1200-plus horsepower on gas and some 1600 hp on biofuel, you will need it. (Photo courtesy of Koenigsegg)KOENIGSEGG
Two hours ago at the Geneva International Motor Show, the industry's biggest, the press and the general public were invited by company founder Christian von Koenigsegg and his team to the unveiling of the renowned Swedish supercar-manufacturer's latest model, the $3 million Jesko, named for von Koenigsegg legendary father, 80, who poured his life savings into his son's rogue luxury startup twenty years ago. Kept tightly under wraps for months as a surprise to its namesake, the Jesko is a superlative and superlatively engineered sportscar. It touts a 5.0 liter twin-turbo V8, which is in keeping with Koenigsegg's motto of packing a towering amount of power into a small package. Put another way, this engine produces 1280 horsepower on standard gas, which figure rises to 1600 hp on E85 biofuel. American owners will be forewarned that the state highway patrol may stop you simply to look at the fantastic thing.
High-Style Low Rider: The mean spoiler, the mainsail for the Jesko's awesome cornering. (Photo courtesy of Koenigsegg)KOENIGSEGG
Aerodynamically, with its prodigious top-mounted rear wing, the car is designed to create 2200 pounds of downforce, for super-tight turns and steadiness at top end speeds of up to 170 mph. That process is aided by some dynamic rear steering, allowing the rear wheels to shift into a turn by as much as three degrees of inclination. Translation: you had better be well-strapped into your ergonomic seat as you round those hairpins, because the Jesko can take them at amazing speeds.
Just Two To Tango: The Minimalist Cockpit of the Jesko. (Photo courtesy of Koenigsegg)KOENIGSEGG
The Jesko (pronounced with the Swedish soft J, as in 'YESS-ko') is governed by an innovative 9-speed transmission that the Koenigsegg people are calling the "Light Speed Transmission," or LST. Essentially, it allows shifting between gears four and seven, say, without, as they explain it, having to go through gears five and six. Above the many other innovations this car carries, this one is a market-changer. Your Pagani- and Lambo-owning cohort will be turning ever-deeper shades of green as they scrape around for their next $3 mil.
To say that any Koenigsegg is bespoke is an understatement, from the fairings around the intakes to the carbon chassis to the light carbon wheels and the dynamic suspension, every millimeter of the car has been subjected to excruciatingly close attention by the makers, who manufacture the cars by hand. Good examples of that level of detail are the protruding external rear view mirrors, each of which has been designed to provide some 40 pounds of downforce.
Man Of The Moment: Jesko von Koenigsegg, 80, On His Son's Production Line In Sweden. (Photo courtesy of Koenigsegg/Martin Juul)KOENIGSEGG/MARTIN JUUL
Finally, the name: The unsuspecting father of Christian von Koenigsegg, Jesko, now 80, was a lifelong, very successful businessman who, twenty years ago, as Christian was starting up the company, dumped his and his wife Brita's entire life savings into the project, helped his son form the company board, and provided crucial advice at every turn. It's a most deserving and heartfelt filial tribute that came as a surprise to the senior von Koenigsegg at Geneva this afternoon. The entire company, down to the craftsmen fixing his name as the logo into the dash, had kept the secret from him.
Cloud Macchiatos added to Starbucks permanent menu in U.S. and Canada storesKelly Tyko, USA TODAYPublished 5:00 a.m. ET March 5, 2019 | Updated 9:14 a.m. ET March 5, 2019
Some of us have had people tell us Ariana Grande’s name sounds like a drink you’d get at Starbucks; Well it looks like the company and the pop-star are finally collabing! Buzz60's Mercer Morrison has the story. Buzz60
Move over regular Macchiatos.
Starbucks is releasing a new version of its popular drink Tuesday – the new Cloud Macchiato.
The coffee giant says the drink "combines the craft of Starbucks espresso, the heritage of Starbucks Caramel Macchiato (created in 1996) and the innovation of Starbucks Cold Foam, an airy microfoam frothed cold and blended until smooth, creating layers of creamy texture and flavor, without the cream."
The Cloud Macchiato is a permanent addition to Starbuck's menu and is available iced or hot in caramel and cinnamon at participating U.S. and Canada stores.
"This newest beverage draws inspiration from the leche merengada, or 'meringue milk,' a summer drink from the cafés of Barcelona, Spain that dates back centuries," Starbucks said in a statement.
Starbucks releases a new drink on March 5: the Iced Cloud Macchiato. (Photo: Starbucks)
The whipped cold foam is made with milk, combined with espresso and finished with a caramel drizzle cross-hatch on top.
Egg whites also are included in the foam, Starbucks said.
"To create the Cloud Macchiato, Starbucks in-house product development team created a special recipe for Cloud powder, using egg whites a key ingredient that is added to the Cold Foam to create a fluffy texture that tastes luxurious," the company said.
Follow Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
Starbucks launches its latest drink, the Cloud Macchiato
- Starbucks is launching a new cold drink, the Cloud Macchiato.
- The beverage is now available in two flavors.
- The new drink comes as the coffee chain refocuses on cold coffees and moves away from Frappuccinos.
Duerr (DUE) Given a €45.00 Price Target at Warburg Research
Several other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports on DUE. Kepler Capital Markets set a €44.00 ($51.16) price objective on Duerr and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, February 20th. Baader Bank set a €43.00 ($50.00) price objective on Duerr and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Thursday, February 28th. UBS Group set a €32.00 ($37.21) price objective on Duerr and gave the stock a neutral rating in a report on Thursday, February 28th. Goldman Sachs Group set a €32.00 ($37.21) price objective on Duerr and gave the stock a neutral rating in a report on Thursday, February 28th. Finally, Berenberg Bank set a €42.00 ($48.84) target price on Duerr and gave the company a buy rating in a report on Thursday, December 6th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have assigned a hold rating and eight have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of €46.50 ($54.07).
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DUE stock opened at €36.71 ($42.69) on Monday. Duerr has a 52-week low of €76.69 ($89.17) and a 52-week high of €120.55 ($140.17).
Dürr Aktiengesellschaft, together with its subsidiaries, operates as a mechanical and plant engineering company worldwide. The company's Paint and Final Assembly Systems segment plans, builds, and upgrades turnkey paint shops and final assembly lines for the automotive industry; and supplies products and processes for various process stages in paint shop technology.
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The All Songs Considered SXSW Preview, 2019
March 5, 20195:16 AM ET
Clockwise from upper left: CHAI, Boy Scouts, Moritz Simon Geist, Blushh, Jojo Abot, Odette
Courtesy of the artists
The annual South by Southwest music festival is our personal endurance challenge to discover as many great unknown and often unsigned bands as possible in just one week. To train for the event, Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson and I listen to more than a thousand songs by bands playing the festival, from all over the world, and try to map out a calendar to see our favorites.
On this edition of All Songs Considered we play some of the standout songs ahead of the 2019 festival, including the Ghanian artist Jojo Abot, garage rock from Blushh, the Japanese pop group CHAI, music made by robots (I'm not making that up) and much, much more. -- Robin Hilton
This preview show is just a small part of NPR Music's SXSW coverage.
- Subscribe to the All Songs Considered podcast for in-the-moment exclamations of joy and bleary-eyed, late-night dispatches from the All Songs Consideredteam.
- Listen to the Austin 100, a playlist of songs from 100 bands playing the festival.
- On this page, we'll post concert videos from our first-ever Tiny Desk Family hour, daily discoveries, including a playlist of things to hear as we discover them — and keep an eye on our social media.
- To get you started: here's All Songs Considered, Bob, Robin and Stephen on Twitter, plus Bob on Instagram, where he posts photos of many of the shows he sees.
- Lastly, subscribe to the NPR Music newsletter for updates not only about the festival but other features available, including Tiny Desks, interviews and more.
New Orleans Divided Over Airbnbs And City Goals
By EDITOR • 14 HOURS AGO
Originally published on March 4, 2019 9:24 pm
Copyright 2019 WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio. To see more, visit WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio.
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Tomorrow is Mardi Gras. It's always a hard time of year to find a room in New Orleans. This year it's particularly hard on Airbnb. The city has decided there are just too many Airbnbs. Reporter Tegan Wendland of WWNO in New Orleans partnered with our Planet Money team for this story.
TEGAN WENDLAND, BYLINE: When she was a kid growing up in New Orleans, Charlene Griffith remembers her dad telling her she was going to be a businesswoman.
CHARLENE GRIFFITH: That sounds good - didn't really know what it was. But I'm like, yeah, I'm going to be that business lady.
WENDLAND: After working in hotels as a housekeeper, then a manager, she wanted to go from hotel worker to hotel owner. She poured her savings into buying and rehabbing the old beat-up property next-door to her in the historically black neighborhood of Treme. She put it up on Airbnb.
GRIFFITH: We had the box spring and a mattress. We had...
WENDLAND: And normally Mardi Gras is her busiest time. This year, her big green house on Ursulines Avenue is eerily quiet. The beds are perfectly made, matching sheets waiting for guests, but covered in plastic.
GRIFFITH: Normally it wouldn't have this plastic on it. It would, you know, just be welcoming for guests to come in and take their leisure here.
WENDLAND: The city won't renew her permit. To understand why, you just have to take a short walk from Griffith's house. In some areas it feels like whole blocks have become hotels. Groups of college-age dudes carry coolers and cases of beer into one house. A group of Polish tourists wearing Mardi Gras beads heads out of another.
Most of the houses on this street have a look to them - clean but bland and with those keypad locks on the doors. On the corner, Richard Kendrick grumbles on his front stoop. He's lived here his whole life. He's 83 now.
RICHARD KENDRICK: Everything - everything in this block is B&B - everything.
WENDLAND: He says the whole neighborhood used to be filled with families, mostly black families with children.
KENDRICK: Oh, predominantly - nothing but children around here, but now you don’t see no children around here or nothing.
WENDLAND: City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer says she hears from a lot of residents like Richard Kendrick.
KRISTIN GISLESON PALMER: There's become an influx of folks that they don't know. They feel less safe because of the constant turnover. You know, there's heightened trash, noise, those kinds of issues.
WENDLAND: It's gotten contentious. That's partly because the city has flip-flopped on how to regulate Airbnb. Two years ago, the city gave the big go-ahead and formalized rules that invited in lots of investment in short-term rentals.
PALMER: What we started seeing was that out-of-town investors would come in and buy property at a much inflated cost - right? - because they're looking at purchasing a house different than the way a homeowner purchases a house, right?
WENDLAND: One San Francisco-based company owns more than 300 units. They operate like hotels, with managers, cleaning staff. Palmer says that's driving up home prices, making it harder for locals to rent or buy. There's not a lot of research on New Orleans. But one study from New York City found that doubling the number of Airbnbs in an area can increase home values by up to 13 percent.
So City Council voted to change the laws. It's a major about-face, almost a ban. The regulations partially went into effect last fall but could take effect permanently this spring. The new rules create some special commercial districts. Otherwise, they only allow people who actually live in a home to rent it out.
PALMER: Those houses, quite frankly, where somebody lives in there and rents the other side or short-term rentals the other side, we've never heard complaints about that. It's when it becomes a business model for investors that come in and buy the properties for inflated costs.
WENDLAND: Airbnb told us banning whole home rentals will devastate New Orleaneans who depend on short-term rentals and will hurt the local economy. The city's facing a tradeoff, protecting people like Richard Kendrick and his block but also protecting homegrown businesswomen, like Charlene Griffith. Airbnb let Griffith go from hotel worker to hotel owner. And now her rental property next door is caught up in the new rules.
GRIFFITH: I'm trying to - how could you say - still claw my way, claw my way, hold on, hold on, hold on and try to make some funding because I don't want to dismantle this whole house.
WENDLAND: For now she's driving Uber to make ends meet. For NPR News, I'm Tegan Wendland in New Orleans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.