Epiphany (The Color Purple)

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A Note to Readers:
 
 
This blog has moved. For newer posts plus copies of all the old ones (even this one!), please visit me at the All-New IN OUR GRANDMOTHERS’ KITCHENS.
  
Tinky
 
 

          With Epiphany only a couple of days away, I decided to try making a King Cake yesterday. I first learned about King Cake from French friends. The French enjoy a “Galette des Rois” on and around January 6. In France, the cake is mainly bought in bakeries. It is made of layers of puff pastry with almondy cream in between the layers.

          In Louisiana, this concoction became a simpler King Cake. Both cakes celebrate the arrival of the three kings at the manger to visit Jesus, born twelve days earlier. Both also contain a surprise—a bean or crown in France, a plastic Baby Jesus in Louisiana. Whoever comes across the surprise in his or her piece of cake becomes king or queen for the day. In Louisiana, that person is also responsible for bringing a King Cake to the next feast. (Natives of that state eat King Cake from Epiphany straight through to Mardi Gras!)

          Louisiana King Cake is basically a sweet, yeasty bread baked in the shape of a ring, festooned with toppings that reproduce the traditional colors of Mardi Gras–purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. I had never made King Cake before. I looked to one of my favorite sources, King Arthur Flour, for suggestions.

          I didn’t follow the recipe precisely, so I can’t blame KAF for the fact that my cake didn’t come out as well as I would have liked. (If you’d like to see the KAF recipe, visit http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/RecipeDisplay?RID=1169473862062.)

          Even so, I think I’ll try something a bit different next time I attempt one of these cakes. My cake didn’t rise very well, perhaps because of the cold weather. Worse yet, the overall effect was bland. My cooking may not be gorgeous as a general rule, but it is hardly ever bland!

          Although the cake wasn’t perfect, the meal during which we ate it was pretty darn terrific. My guests all cheerfully helped decorate the cake. Different people were assigned the tasks of dying the glaze purple, green, and gold. My neighbor Peter, who has a wonderful visual sense, came up with a very creditable purple. In fact, he suggested that I call this post “The Color Purple.”

          As a reward for his hard work, Lady Luck let Peter find the cake’s surprise. His piece included a quarter as I had neither a bean nor a Baby Jesus. (Don’t worry; I counseled my guests to chew carefully!) He is now King of Pudding Hollow—for at least the next day or two.

          The experience of sharing even my imperfect cake with friends reminded me of the other, equally important definition of Epiphany. The word also connotes a moment of revelation. Eating with friends and enjoying the gorgeous pinkish/purplish light of winter in New England made me feel part of something bigger, both social and natural. And that’s a perfect feeling on Epiphany.

Alice was in charge of the color green.

Alice was in charge of the color green.

The King of Pudding Hollow

The King of Pudding Hollow

A Sky Full of Epiphany

A Sky Full of Epiphany

Note from Tinky MUCH later:   I made a lovely king cake for Mardi Gras. Click here to see the recipe………..

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2 Responses to “Epiphany (The Color Purple)”

  1. Kathleen M. Wall Says:

    Dear Tinky,
    What a great party! I made my first King Cake back some twenty years ago after my first trip to New Orleans, and purple is hard color to get just right. Yeasted cakes are tricky to get ‘right’, but if you think lots of eggs (a la challah), some cream and butter, with a goodly amount of spice – like cinnamon buns – you might find something not so bland. Seventeenth century cakes were essentially yeasted white bread dough with everything good thrown in. Congratulations to Peter, I always knew he was a prince, but a KING….although I find it hard to believe you didn’t have a bean! Puddingly yours, KMW

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