January 6th was Three Kings Day here, and bakeries have been selling king's cakes. I got three this week with slightly different fillings from boulangerie, pâtisserie and supermarket.
This kind of cake is essentially a tart filled with frangipane and topped with puff pastry. Frangipane is a ground almonds cream usually used as a custard-like filling for pastries. Hmmm, I'm wondering if frangipane has anything to do with frangipani, the sweet-scented plumeria that I adore... 🧐 My curiosity also urged me to do a quick search of the differences between frangipane and marzipan, and that blog compared them with almond paste and fondant as well.
King's cake is said to be originated from France. Here a figurine is often hidden inside and each cake comes with a shiny paper crown. Whoever gets the piece with the figurine becomes the crowned King or Queen that day. As you can see from my photos, I got little ceramic trinkets from the three cakes, they are in the shape of a Swedish twisted skyscraper, a hedgehog and an Iron Man respectively. Very cute, aren't they? From my photos, it's not hard to see which one is my favourite. =)
While in Belgium where the same holiday is celebrated, it's not a figurine but mostly a bean that's hidden inside the king cake. But sometimes, you can get more value out of it. Today I read that one bakery in Brussels put two 18-carat gold coins inside their cakes to attract customers. Pretty creative if you ask me! If you are the lucky buyer, you will be gifted with a worth of about 200 euros.
So, why is it called king cake then? It's associated in many countries with Epiphany. The last day at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas is Epiphany or Three Kings Day for Catholics. That day, the baby Jesus was first presented to three Wise Men (Three Kings) and received gifts from them. That's why a small figure is put into the cake, said to be related to baby Jesus and gifts.
For the Orthodox, Epiphany is the Baptism of Christ. Meaning 'revelation', Epiphany refers to the times of either the visit of the Three Kings to Jesus in Catholics or his Baptism in Orthodox, both when Jesus was 'revealed' to be very important. Three Kings Day is normally celebrated for one day, and Epiphany is for longer depending on the culture. When I was living and traveling in Latin America, I saw grand parades on streets on Three Kings Day, with three men dressed as the Wise Men.
Nowadays, people mostly celebrate this official end to the Christmas holiday by gathering with loved ones and enjoying some hearty meal, and a king's cake for dessert. I had the king cakes for breakfasts and loved the not overly sweet taste.
图文 by Donica