Mardi Gras season would not be quite as colorful or flavorful without the tradition of King Cake, a tasty custom that celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings bringing gifts to the baby Jesus 12 days after his birth. According to the modern Christian calendar, that day is January 6.
12th Night Tradition
The day is now celebrated with a beautiful cake decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of blue, green and purple. The person who finds the little plastic baby Jesus baked inside each pastry is named king or queen of the party, and responsible for hosting the next King Cake party.
The 12th Night tradition is widely celebrated throughout France where the cake is known as “gâteau des Rois.” 12th Night kicks off the season of balls and parties that culminate with Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras.
Of course, such “bon temps” are the lifeblood of N’Orleans and any place within a beads’ toss of the entire state of Louisiana where a good party and good food are simply “raison d’etre.” One of those communities is Beaumont, TX – just 45 minutes from the Louisiana state line – where they are just as party crazy as any Cajun community you’ve ever visited.
King Cakes Shipped by Rao Bakery
During the month of January, the party just wouldn’t be a party without a King Cake from Rao’s Bakery in Beaumont. This family-owned business has been a part of all Beaumont celebrations since 1941, creating some fabulous desserts and treats, no matter what the season. There are three locations in Beaumont and another in Houston, but you’ll find the original at the corner of 10th and Calder in Beaumont.
This time of year, the UPS and FedEx trucks make daily pick-ups at Rao’s. Sure, the drivers are probably sneaking a cookie or cupcake along with their coffee, but the purpose of their stops is to ship more than 8,000 King cakes across the United States to communities where the 12th Tradition is not celebrated so prominently. Sacrebleu!
Rao’s ships all sorts of goodies and care packages – it’s a big part of their business. But a really cool thing they do is offer a kid’s baking camp each summer to teach children of all ages this creative craft and the art of making King cakes.
Hmmm. You think if I’m a kid at heart I can participate in one of the summer baking camps? If not, that’s OK, because I’ve got the order form for Rao’s King Cakes bookmarked on my desktop. It’s a lot easier just to have FedEx bring the party to my house.
Laissez les bon temps rouler!