January 6: Feast of the Epiphany

A delicious custom on (or near) the Feast of the Epiphany.

King Cake on Feast of the Epiphany

This post originally appeared on Make Ready the Feast Blog on January 6, 2017.

Begin quoteThis is an “old style” New Orleans King Cake, as it is brioche dough that is decorated.   The trend over the past couple decades has been to a sweeter, Danish pastry type dough that is decorated the same way.   But even older than both is the French Gauteau de Roi, which has been in existence for a long time, and is made by some specialty bakers in New Orleans.  This cake makes its appearance on Epiphany to help celebrate the joyous season of the many manifestations of Christ to God’s people.   In New Orleans it is a season of balls, parties, and parades, and this cake makes an appearance at all of them.  It also shows up at offices, strategically placed near the coffee maker, and the person who finds the little plastic doll tucked inside is responsible for bringing the next King Cake.

The year 1870 saw the appearance of an early New Orleans Mardi Gras organization known as the Twelfth Night Revelers.   They continue to hold their balls to this day, and choose their queen by having their debutantes select pieces from a giant cake.   The damsel who finds the golden bean in her cake will reign over the ball.

Mexico has a similar cake, presented on Twelfth Night, and the family member who finds the token in the cake is responsible for seeing the family attends the mass on Candelario, or the Feast of the Presentation, on February 2.  The presentation of the Christ child at the Temple and Simeon’s joy upon seeing Him are one of the season’s many manifestations.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages (4½ teaspoons) yeast
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 to 3 cups flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 to 3½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • Green, yellow, blue and red food coloring

The Sponge:  Combine the yeast, ¼ cup water, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a 2 cup measure, whisking well, and set aside to allow to bubble and rise, about 10 minutes.   Meanwhile, whisk the two eggs in a mixing bowl with the ½ cup sugar, 1½ cups of flour, and the cup of milk.   When the yeast has foamed up (“proofed”, or, proven to be working) whisk it into the egg mixture to form a smooth batter.    Cover the bowl with a clean, damp dish towel and set it aside in a warm, draft free place until it doubles in size, about one to one and a half hours.

The Dough:  When the sponge has doubled, stir it down with a wooden spoon and stir in the melted butter, the extracts, salt and nutmeg.   Mix this well.   Then stir in the 2 to 3 cups flour, ½ cup at a time, first with the spoon and then with the hands to form a dough you can begin to knead.   Turn this dough out of the bowl, scraping the inside of the bowl, all onto a lightly floured countertop, and begin to knead.   Add sprinkles of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking, but it should be slightly tacky at the end of the process.   (Do not add too much flour.)   Knead for eight to ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Place the kneaded dough in a clean, buttered bowl, turn it to coat, cover with the damp dish towel, and place in the warm, draft free place to rise until doubled, about one to two hours.  Preheat the oven to 325˚ now.

Shaping and Baking the Cake:   After the dough has risen punch it down with your fist and turn it out onto a lightly floured countertop.   Knead the dough lightly to release any air pockets, and then divide it into three equal portions.   Cover these with the damp dish towel and allow to rest for five minutes to make the shaping easier.   After the rest roll each ball of dough into three “ropes” of one and a half foot lengths.   Place the ropes side by side, and, beginning in the center, braid them to the end.   Then, working from the other side of the ropes, braid them to the other end as well.   Form the braided ropes into a circle, and gently pinch the ends together.   Place the cake on a greased baking sheet, cover it with the damp dish towel, and allow it to rise in the warm place until puffy and nearly doubled, about a half hour.   Be sure your oven is preheated to 325˚.

Once the cake has risen beat together the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water.   Remove the damp towel and brush the egg mixture carefully over the surface of the risen cake.   Then place the cake in the 325˚ oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into one of the braids comes out clean.  When done, remove the cake from the oven, let it rest on the baking sheet for several minutes, then, with a pancake turner, remove it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Decorating the Cake:   In a medium bowl mix together the 3 tablespoons milk, lemon juice, and 3 cups of the confectioner’s sugar.   Check the consistency, adding more sugar to assure the icing is not too runny.  It should have the consistency of corn syrup.   Pour this over the cooled cake as it sits on its rack.

Place two tablespoons sugar in each of three bowls.   To the first bowl stir in three drops green food color.   Stir in three drops of yellow food color to the second bowl of sugar.   To the third bowl stir in two drops of blue and one of red food color, to make purple.   Sprinkle these colored sugars, in sections, on the top of the iced cake.

Into the underside of the completed cake tuck a New Orleans King Cake plastic doll, or a dried bean, or a whole shelled pecan, as a favor.

The green stands for Faith, the gold for Power, and the purple for Justice.  These are the colors of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, as established by His Majesty, Rex, the King of Carnival, in 1872.

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Submitted by: Brian Reid from St. George’s Episcopal Church, New Orleans. Brian has contributed recipes that have appeared in The Times-Picayune and other local publications.

For a downloadable/printable version of this recipe, click: king-cake-for-epiphany

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning

Image: Make Ready The Feast

A Prayer After a Murderous Act

We join with the people of God in fervent prayer that our country will honor those murdered and wounded in Las Vegas by joining in acts of repentance, healing, and public conversation about the gun violence that has ripped us apart, yet again.

2017 Mandalay Bay Shooting Prayer

Composed after the events in Las Vegas, NV on October 1, 2017. An appeal to allow our prayers to lead us to actions that heal.

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

 

Emergency Relief provided by Episcopal Relief and Development

Episcopal Relief & Development is providing critical emergency supplies to the British Virgin Islands in collaboration with Convoy of Hope and the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands…

2017 Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

This information was originally posted on 29 September 2017 as a Press Release by Episcopal Relief and Development

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Episcopal Relief & Development Provides Emergency Assistance to the British Virgin Islands after the Hurricanes

Episcopal Relief & Development is providing critical emergency supplies to the British Virgin Islands in collaboration with Convoy of Hope and the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands following the devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Convoy of Hope is a faith-based humanitarian organization located in Missouri. The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands is present on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John in the US Virgin Islands and Tortola and Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.

Critical supplies, including food, two portable kitchens, two refrigeration containers, 350,000 gallons of drinking water, 9,900 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, tarps, plywood and nails as well as hygiene and infant care kits, arrived in Tortola on September 28th. Clergy and lay leaders of the diocese collaborated with Convoy of Hope staff to gather and allocate supplies and ensure that necessary items were shared with vulnerable families with the greatest needs.

“Distributions continue being coordinated with our church partners,” noted Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President for Programs. “The damage is catastrophic throughout the Virgin Islands and people are greatly in need of the most basic necessities. Getting supplies to people on Tortola and Virgin Gorda has been a particular challenge and working with Convoy of Hope together with the Episcopal leadership has been a blessing.”

Many residents are still without electricity, running water and telephone service, leaving them isolated after both hurricanes devastated the Virgin Islands. Homes, hospitals and other buildings were destroyed, roads damaged beyond repair, trees uprooted, and essential services wiped out by the ferocity of these storms. After Hurricane Irma made landfall in early September, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working closely with the Diocese of the Virgin Islands to provide immediate assistance where the Church has a presence. The islands rely heavily on tourism and with restaurants, docks and resorts destroyed, the path to recovery is expected to be a long one.

“Through our partnerships with the diocese and Convoy of Hope, we are offering emergency support to communities that have lost almost everything,” Nelson said. “There’s so much more work that needs to be done, and we are deeply committed to accompanying our partners on the long road ahead.”

Contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund will help support church and other local partners as they provide critical emergency assistance to those most in need.

Logo for Episcopal Relief and Development

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

September is National Preparedness Month

Feeling prepared for a situation – be it a job interview, a new baby or a sudden disaster – not only helps us experience less fear and anxiety, but can actually improve how things go. The three most important things you can do to prepare for a disaster are to make a plan, be informed and get a kit.

2017 National Preparedness Month

As our own Episcopal Relief & Development Fund (ERD) works to respond, recover, and rebuild with local partners after Hurricane Harvey, so, too, do they encourage us to be prepared.

Visit the ERD Page US Disaster Program Preparedness Resources. Once there, follow up by evaluating and improving your preparedness for disasters of all kinds.

Thanksgiving for Work on Labor Day

Pause on Labor Day and give thanks for those who work to make your life better.

 

Labor Day 00

This litany, “Thanksgiving for Work,” is intended for the use of our Members and Friends as a way of honoring those whose work has blessed our lives. View or download the litany here.

 

Labor Day 2017

Remember and honor those whose works are a blessing in your life.

Labor Day Arrow Prayer Ps 90:17

Remember and honor those whose “works” are a blessing in your life.

Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.

 

 

HURRICANE HARVEY 2017: WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

For those of us observing [Hurricane Harvey and every disaster] and praying from afar, it’s important to remember that [our response] is a marathon and not a sprint. In addition, the tricky part is responding in a way that is timely and appropriate. Understanding the phases of a disaster can be useful in determining how you can help.

Flooded home after Hurricane Harvey

This originally appeared as an ERD blog post by Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development, August 2017.

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Starting on Sunday, as the scope and devastation of Hurricane Harvey became apparent, my email box began to fill with some version of: “What can I do to help?” I praise God for these emails.

When we see images of people suffering, we want to do something. That’s understandable. As Christians, we are called to seek and serve Christ in all people and never more so than in times of crisis.

For those still in the midst of the disaster, please follow the advice of your local authorities. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Otherwise, you won’t be able to help anyone else later on.

For those of us observing and praying from afar, it’s important to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. In addition, the tricky part is responding in a way that is timely and appropriate. Understanding the phases of a disaster can be useful in determining how you can help.

Most disasters have three distinct, if sometimes overlapping phases: Rescue, Relief and Recovery.

Phase 1 – Rescue

The Rescue phase is focused on saving lives and securing property, and is most acute in those parts of a region that are directly flooded. Police, fire departments and other government agencies are best able to do this work. They have equipment that can clear roads and debris and find people. The Rescue phase can take one to two weeks, sometimes longer.

In the case of Harvey, the disaster hasn’t yet stopped and so the Rescue phase is taking place in the midst of the crisis. It can be heartbreaking to watch, I know. However, I urge all of us to be patient. Please pray for those who are suffering as a result of this tragedy and for the professionals who are risking their lives to save others.

Phase 2 – Relief

The next is the Relief phase. We and our partners began preparing for this phase as soon as it was clear how massive Harvey was going to be. During this phase, the local church will be one of the first places people go to seek assistance and shelter. Because they are prepared and experienced in disaster response, we know that our partners in Texas and elsewhere will be active in the Relief phase. This is where Episcopal Relief & Development is focusing its resources right now.

Phase 3 – Recovery

Eventually, we get to the third and final phase: Recovery. During this period, the emphasis shifts to restoring services, repairing houses and buildings, returning individuals to self-sufficiency and rebuilding communities. The challenge of the Recovery phase is that most of the television cameras have moved on, but the human suffering has grown. It is a chronic state, not a crisis. However, it is the phase that the Church excels in, because we are part of the communities that have been impacted and can best identify needs and work with the community to address them efficiently.

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So, in light of the above, let me offer the following advice about how you can help:

Financial Support

Now is the time to offer financial support. Contributing to Episcopal Relief & Development will ensure that we have enough resources to support the work of our church partners as they serve the most vulnerable in their communities.  They are best positioned to assess needs and timing for response efforts.

One of the immediate ways Episcopal Relief & Development and our partners help individuals is by handing out gift cards to local stores so that people can choose what they need the most. It not only affords people dignity it also helps stimulate the local economy, which needs to recover post-disaster. Learn about the other ways we assist during the three R’s of disaster here.

Volunteering

The best approach is to wait until those affected have indicated what kind of support is most needed and whether they are ready to house and utilize volunteers. Inserting ourselves at the appropriate time alleviates additional stress and complications that can actually make things worse. If you think you would like to volunteer please register with Episcopal Relief & Development’s Ready to Serve database. This list of volunteers will be shared with the impacted dioceses once they are ready to use and support volunteers. They will contact you if and when they need help.

Donating Goods

My firm recommendation is DON’T DO IT. I can’t tell you how many piles of discarded clothing I saw in parking lots throughout the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. After major disasters, diocesan staff have limited capacity to receive, store or distribute donated goods. Here’s a great article about the challenges of communities receiving donated goods: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/09/168946170/thanks-but-no-thanks-when-post-disaster-donations-overwhelm

An effective response requires us to discern what is most helpful and appropriate at any given time. Let’s continue to hold those directly impacted in our hearts and prayers throughout their recovery, long after the media images fade.


Donate to our Hurricane Harvey Response FundYour generous support will supply critical necessities for communities immediately and for the long-term as they recover and rebuild.

 


 

8dad5a6b477e9c5fd2364df163af6559  Rob Radtke is the President of Episcopal Relief & Development.

Feature Image: Home submerged in floods. Photo by Tara Quick in the original blog post.

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