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
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?