King's Cake

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A festive American bread that is a traditional part of the carnival season and the notable Mardi Gras celebrations. The King Cake arrived in New Orleans with the first French settlers and has remained to this day. Baked in the shape of a circle to represent the unity of Christianity, the bread is decorated with icing and colored sugars denoting the three Kings who visited the baby Jesus on the 12th day after Christmas, the day of Epiphany. A small figure of the baby Jesus is placed inside the bread and the person receiving the piece of bread containing the figure is the one responsible for making the King Cake the following year. According to tradition, the King Cake can only be prepared between Epiphany on January 6th, when the carnival begins, until the first day of Lent. Over time, people have developed their own variations for this bread including different fillings and toppings, but the selection of colors for the topping is always purple, green, and gold, which represent justice, faith, and power, respectively. The bread itself is made from a yeast dough of bread flour or all-purpose flour. European breads that are similar to King’s Cake include Twelfth Night Bread from Spain and Bolo-Rei from Portugal.

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