Friday, January 6, 2012

Epiphany, King Cake, and 52 Weeks of Fairy Tales - Week #1

When I was in second year high school French class, our teacher taught us about the French custom of Le Jour Des Rois, and how people in France make a special cake with a bean or Almond hidden within, to celebrate the visit of the 3 Wise Men (Kings, Magi) bringing baby Jesus his gifts.  The person who finds the hidden almond or bean in their cake gets to be the King.  Being an eager student of many various world customs, I was glad to learn a new one, and went right home to make a special cake for my family.  My whole family was glad to participate and we really had fun finding out who was king of the day.  I continued celebrating this Day of the Kings, with King cake every year.

Little did I know, until years later, that this day was Epiphany, celebrated in many countries, and in many ways.  Here is the Wikipedia link about Epiphany.  According to the Wikipedia article, Epiphany is an older holiday than Christmas itself, and is considered an important one in many churches.  Having attended Baptist churches, I had never heard of the holiday.  This holiday marks the end of the Christmas season, and is a nice quiet little holiday to say farewell to the Christmas season, hear the story of the wise men visiting Jesus, and have a fun King Cake dessert.

I do not make any specific cake, every year I make something different, there are traditional cakes for many countries, as well as the King Cakes made in New Orleans.  One year we even let my daughter make the cake in her new Christmas Easy Bake Oven, which made her very happy.  This year I am making a Rich Pudding Bundt Cake.  Instead of a nut (tree nut allergies), or a bean (yikes on teeth), I ordered years ago from a bakery in New Orleans little plastic Babies that are meant to represent Baby Jesus.  I DO NOT bake the plastic Baby into the cake, it might melt, and of course it just doesn't seem right :) , I push it into the cake after it has baked, since my children are older teens, I do not worry about choking, plus we all look for the hidden baby first to find out who is King, we eat the cake only after the item has been found, to be on the safe side.

DON'T give a young child King Cake with a choking sized item hidden within, that would be a dangerous choking hazard. ( I'm sure you knew that, but the Ol' Mother in me just had to say it.)

Here are some of the little plastic King Cake Babies-

I also made a crown out of gold cardstock for the top of the cake.

The cake I am making this year is inspired by a wonderful cake that my Mother-in-law makes- a Pistachio Cake, before I started being more cautious with my Tree Nut allergies, I very much enjoyed this cake.  Now I make cakes using the same process, just switching the flavor of pudding. Instead of Pistachio, I have used lemon, this year I am trying Vanilla with a tiny bit of Artificial Rum extract, and I hope to try this with chocolate some time this year as well. Here is the recipe-

Vanilla Rum Pudding Bundt King Cake

1 box Moist Yellow Cake Mix
2 boxes Instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
7 eggs
1 teaspoon rum flavoring

Mix all of the above ingredients in 1 bowl for five minutes on high speed.  Bake in a bundt pan coated in cooking spray or shortening at 350 F. for 45 minutes to an hour, until knife inserted in center comes out clean, and cake is starting to pull away from edges.  When the cake is done baking, remove from pan and turn out onto a cooling rack.

Vanilla Rum Frosting

2 boxes instant vanilla pudding
2 cups whole milk
2- 8 oz tubs of Cool Whip Topping
1 teaspoon rum flavoring

Mix pudding with milk until combined well, then stir in rum flavoring until combined, then fold in cool whip.  Chill in fridge until cake is completely cooled, and chill frosting for at least half an hour to help it set up.  Frost when cake is cool, keep cake stored in the refrigerator.

Side note- The above frosting recipe is actually a double batch, I always make this large batch because I think a lot of fluffy frosting looks beautiful, if you need less frosting just cut the above recipe in half.

Here is how our cake turned out-

Our daughter was the lucky finder of the little baby this year, and has been made Queen for the evening, she will pick out any programming we watch as a family, as well as the ability to opt out of whichever chore she prefers.

We read the story of the Wise Men visiting Jesus in the book of Matthew, chapter 2.  I also made a new transparency for today, you can see it at the top of the page.  Thank goodness I got a picture, just before our King Cake dessert, our young lab Zoey decided to chew up my Wise Men Transparency, guess I'll be making a new one to share during Sunday school :).  For instructions on how to make a transparency here is a link to my Winter Transparency Craft Blog Post.

I also like to share a little book I found years ago that tells about the wise men visiting Jesus, and has little samples of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh , the book is called Gifts of the Magi. It is fun to look at these items, we all enjoy it, and the kids in my Sunday school class enjoy looking at this book every year.   Here is a picture-

I am unsure if this book is still in print, but you can still find copies through Amazon's Marketplace, here is my Affiliate link.

52 Weeks of Fairy Tales

In addition to getting the house back in order, and putting away the rest of the Christmas decorations, I have started a new project for the year.  52 Weeks of Fairy Tales.  I grew up reading Fairy Tales, I loved them all, I have read many different versions, of many different tales.  Here is the Fairy Tale Book from my childhood, this book remains one of my very favorite books on the bookshelf.

So this year, I intend to read a different Fairy Tale every week, learn a bit of its history, share the story with my family (good lesson in cultural literacy), as well as work on a related craft or activity if possible, and Blog about the Fairy Tale each week.  It took me a couple of days to compile my list, I still have 9 open spaces, and I still have a few of my books to go through to pick out the rest.  I am sticking with tales mostly from Western  History, such as Grimm, Perrault, and Anderson.  These were the Fairy Tales I grew up with and want to revisit again.

Week #1 - Rapunzel

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair...

I chose Rapunzel first, because it is the first Fairy Tale in my Book of Classic Fairy Tales, the picture above is the first page of the story, I used to spend quite some time looking at these illustrations, full of such wonderful detail.

In this version of the story Rapunzel has been kept locked in a tall tower since she was 12 years old by an evil witch, this version gives no background as to why.  A handsome prince hears Rapunzel singing, and must find the woman behind the beautiful voice, try as he might, he cannot get into the tower.  He comes back repeatedly to listen to the singing, and one day sees the old witch call up " Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair"  at which time a long golden braid comes down and the witch uses it to climb up.  After the prince sees the Witch leave, he goes to the foot of the tower and calls out "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair". He climbs up and sees the beautiful Rapunzel, and vows to rescue her from the tower with a tall silken ladder.  He leaves to get a ladder, and the Witch comes back, Rapunzel accidentally makes the comment that the Prince was much lighter than the Witch, and the witch becomes enraged that a prince has found Rapunzel, she cuts Rapunzel's hair and banishes Rapunzel to a far away village.  When the Prince returns it is the Witch who lowers the golden braid, and when the prince reaches the top and sees the witch, she releases the braid and the Prince falls and becomes blind.  The Prince wanders around, blind and in sadness, one day he comes upon a village where he hears Rapunzel singing, he calls for her, and she comes.  When she sees that her prince is blind she cries, her tears fall onto the Princes face, and magically heals his blindness.  They live happily ever after... as for the witch, no one knows what became of her, since she dropped the braid, was she able to get down?

Here is the Wikipedia link to Rapunzel  you can read a short synopsis of the story here, as well as why the witch took Rapunzel in the first place, as well as its history.  Anyone interested in reading this story needs only to search the title, Grimm's fairy Tales are found all over the web for free, it is fun to read different versions.

I also have recorded Tangled, Disney's new movie based on Rapunzel, to my DVR, I always enjoy comparing the original version to the Disney version, plus the kids in my Sunday school class have told me I must see this movie, and were very surprised I hadn't seen it yet.  I enjoyed this movie today while I was sewing, and overall it was a nice movie, I enjoyed the singing, and although there were some changes to the original story, which is to be expected, it was a nice story, perfect for my day of sewing.

My activity this week was to make a Rapunzel doll, I had fun embroidering her dress, and braiding her hair.  Here's how she turned out-

Now we just need to make her a tower, a witch, and a handsome prince.

I learned how to make this style of doll from Salley Mavor's Felt Wee Folks book, which has great patterns, and instructions, and pictures that will inspire lots of doll making.  I really enjoy this book.

Here is my Amazon affiliate link:

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.  Do you celebrate Epiphany with a King Cake or some other tradition?  Do you have a favorite Fairy Tale?


  1. Hi April! As a Lutheran, we celebrate Epiphany in church, but I don't recall any traditions surrounding it. Love your year of fairy tales idea! When I was a little girl, my nickname was Rapunzel (along with Lady Jane) because I had such long hair that reached down to my knees. BTW, your little doll is adorable!

  2. Thanks Jane! How fun that your nickname was Rapunzel, long hair like that can be very pretty, Mine was pretty long when I was a girl as well, long enough sometimes that I could sit on it, but never much longer than that, most of the time my hair was up in Laura Ingalls style braids. Lady Jane is a good nickname too, mine unfortunately was Apes, fortunately that didn't follow me into adulthood :)

  3. I love your ideas and research on Epiphany. I studied Medieval European history in college, so I was a bit familiar with its importance going into this season. I also never knew about the french cake (I also took french and did research in France). We will have to try this next year.

    As for your fairy tales, bravo! I think keeping the classics alive are important and using the real non-disney versions are even better. I adore you doll. I might have to try to make my own! Love it!

  4. wow, that cake looks fantastic! save a piece for me!!!
    I LOVE your rapunzel doll....I LOVE long hair (mine is currently almost to my waist) so I have a special place in my heart for this story...
    love your blog!

  5. Nicole Elizabeth~ Medieval European History is so fun to study, I never studied it in college, but about 6 years ago delved into a study of that time period, so fascinating! How amazing to get to travel to France too! I agree with you, the classics are so important to keep alive.

    Bending Birches~ I enjoyed your Epiphany post as well, such a beautiful way to celebrate! I go back and forth between long and short hair, sometimes I like to grow it long, and other times I like it fairly short. My hair is stick straight and will not hold a curl for it's life, so I like to keep it as simple as possible.

    Thank you both for stopping by! :)

  6. Your cake looks awesome, April! I think I will use your recipe next time! I want to remake mine and make it pretty. Awesome awesome cake! I am a little scared to put the little plastic babies in the cake, fear of if they melt.

  7. Thanks Courty! I bet yours will turn out great, also with the little plastic babies, I always put them in the cake after it has baked so the baby won't melt, I just cut a little slit in the side of the cake, and push the baby in, then frost the cake so no one can see where the baby is. :) King Cakes are such a fun tradition.

  8. It is our tradition, in Wales, to leave the decorations up until after Twelfth Night and to take them down on January 6th. I do so feel for the Magi, for no sooner than they arrive to the crib on January 6th, they are whisked away with the rest of the decorations to be put away for another year!
    I, too, love exploring the Christmas traditions of other countries and cultures. I follow the Icelandic Yule Lads as they come down from the mountains. In the UK, silver charms are (now no longer for health and safety) stired into the Christmas pudding. I remember often finding a silver sixpence in mine. Looking forward to the fairytale each week. I am doing a weekly blog charting the sunsets! I hope we get some good ones. Many blessings to you and your family for 2012.

  9. Wow, April, what an exciting project!! I look forward to your 52 weeks of fairy tales. Plus I love your epiphany cake. We will definitely try that one next year. Thank you so much for sharing at Sharing Saturday.

  10. What a wonderful tradition to share with your family. Your cake sounds delicious.

    My dad used read me bedtime stories when I was little. I remember having a big book of fairy tales that he would read from and I LOVED them and that special time with him each night. Have fun and thanks for sharing at AfterSchool!

  11. I lived in France from age 9-12, and learned about King Cake there. Every year I mean to make one and forget. Hopefully next year!

    LOVE your Rapunzel!

    Thanks for sharing at Afterschool =)

  12. What a great project. For years I have been wanting to make a huge stack of blankets and a doll for the princess and the pea story but haven't gotten around to it yet. Maybe this is the year. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Oh yay! How lovely! Finally someone that celebrates 3 Kings Day too.. It is such a lovely tradition, isn't it?!

    I just and we have a Panatone, but we still have a figurine and hat!

    Here is my short post on it

    Thanks for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  14. Thanks everyone for all of your positive comments.

    I love hearing about everyone's different King Cake Celebrations, and holiday traditions.

    Deborah~ The Icelandic Yule Lads sound interesting, I will have to look into that. Finding the sixpence in your Christmas Pudding sounds like fun!

    Glad to hear the great feedback about my 52 days of fairy tales.

    Natalie~ I too have always wanted to craft a tall bed for Princess and the Pea, I was browsing Pinterest for fairy Tale ideas, and saw some wonderful Princess and the Pea crafts.

    Hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday!

  15. Wow, your Rapunzel is lovely. I pinned the book you recommend - I always wanted to learn how to make these dolls. Visiting from Afterschool.

  16. Ooh I think I may have to steal your Kings Cake tradition!

    As for the fairy tales -- I adore them! We aren't blessed with children yet, but when we are, I'm devoting "kindergarten" entirely to fairy tale exploration (I plan to homeschool). And then revisit when they are teens. There are so many layers to them that they never grow stale!


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