King cakes are baked starting from the Epiphany (January 6) until Fat Tuesday, the last day before lent. The festive cake is colored purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.
During ancient pagan festivals, a bean was hidden inside a cake. Later, in medieval France, the cake became associated with Christianity and the Epiphany when they branded it the galette des rois (which literally translates into “king cake”) and the bean came to represent the baby Jesus.
Legend has it that if you receive the piece of cake with the bean in it ― which later became a plastic baby ― you get to be king for the day. These days, it also means that you’re responsible for bringing next year’s cake.
For a fun twist on the tradition of Epiphany Cakes here's an easy recipe
King Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
White Boxed Cake Mix (makes life simple - make as directed)
2 Tbs. Cinnamon (divided)
1 Tbs. Sugar
½ teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ - 1 cup chopped pecans (approximate)
Cream Cheese Icing
8 oz cream cheese
1.5 Tbs. vegetable shortening
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 pound powdered sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
Purple, green and yellow sugar sand or sprinkles for decorating
- Mix cupcakes as directed on box mix and preheat oven as directed. Add 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and ½ teaspoon of lemon extract to batter.
- In separate bowl combine remaining 1 tablespoon of cinnamon to 1 tablespoon of sugar. (Feel free to adjust this ratio as desired).
- Fill cupcake liners ⅔ full with batter mixture. On top of each cupcake sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and sugar mixture. Take a toothpick and swirl the mixture into the cupcake slightly.
- Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top if desired. Bake as directed.
Cream Cheese Icing
- Cream together the softened cream cheese, shortening, and butter.
- Add vanilla extract and gently add in the powdered sugar with the mixer on low.
- Add additional powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.
Top with purple, green, and gold sugar sprinkles for a true king cake design!