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  • Writer's pictureSteve Payne

Jesus In A King Cake

I wrote this song the morning after attending a Fat Tuesday party at Charly and Rhoda Hamilton's house a few years ago. I was the fortunate one to get Charly's baby Jesus work of art. I hope you enjoy it! (West Side Mural art by Charly Jupiter Hamilton)

History of The King Cake


The king cake is a mixture of a French pastry and a coffee cake. Its oval shape and festive colors give it a unique appeal. The original version features the royal colors of gold, purple, and green. Gold represents power, purple represents justice, and green signifies faith. The shape of the cake symbolizes the unity of faiths.


The base of the king cake is made of cinnamon dough that is braided together. The dough is covered with poured sugar and colored sugar sprinkles. Some varieties may even include fillings like cream cheese, strawberry, lemon, and other flavors.

At Caluda’s, we braid our dough and create colored sugars in-house by hand. It’s important to note that there are many king cake versions that contain a variety of ingredients. However, the colored sugar or icing, cinnamon dough, and oval shape are consistent throughout most recipes.


It is believed that the king cake tradition originated in France and was brought to New Orleans in 1870. The French version of this local delicacy is made of an almond-filled puff pastry that gives off a flaky texture. It also features a decorative pattern and is sometimes topped with a paper crown. The New Orleans style cake shares more similarities with the Spanish or Latin version, which is ring-shaped and topped with icing and candied fruit.


If you've been in New Orleans for carnival season, or if you're lucky enough to taste a cake from there that has arrived in the mail, there's a pretty good chance that yes, there is a plastic baby that comes with your cake.

The baby, meant to represent Jesus, has become a fixture of the king cake (galette des rois in France or rosca de reyes as it's called in Mexico). It's a frosted yeast dough cake that New Orleans bakeries churn out between King's Day, January 6th, and Fat Tuesday, the last day of indulgence before Lent.

But just how that baby got in the cake is a strange tale – featuring a crafty traveling salesman — that's worthy of the best Mardi Gras lore and ritual.


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