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.

Divider

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

Collect: Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Acknowledging that God supports us in doing good, we ask for help in keeping God’s commandments for the good of all.

 

Coventry Cathedral - Reconciliation

Jesus taught them, “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24

The Collect for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept our prayers; and because in our weakness we can do nothing good without you, give us the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments we may please you both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 216

As this prayer is spoken aloud today in worship I wonder (about myself and those with whom I pray) just how completely I/we trust in God? Do I/we trust God’s strength in every time and place? Certainly I/we believe that God will mercifully accept our prayers (always). And then I/we have the audacity to ask for grace to keep the commandments so “we may please you [God] in will and deed.” After praying this way we’ll hear Jesus continue his teaching of the disciples (that’s us) that what is in our hearts is as important as what we do. Lots to consider through the day and the week. ~Fr. Dan

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

Image: Art in the Christian Tradition (Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Collect: For vocation in daily work

 

Teacher and students in the kitchen

In the readings from Sunday (Epiphany 5A in the Revised Common Lectionary) we heard the Spirit:

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?  Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly…. Isaiah 56:6-8 NRSV

[Jesus continued teaching his disciples], “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15-16 NRSV

As a response to the fasting desired by God and the words of Jesus we prayed this prayer as a way to close the homily at St. Hugh’s:

Almighty God our heavenly Father, you declare your glory and show forth your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth: Deliver us in our various occupations from the service of self alone, that we may do the work you give us to do in truth and beauty and for the common good; for the sake of him who came among us as one who serves, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect 24. For Vocation in Daily Work, Book of Common Prayer, 261

Collect: Third Sunday after Epiphany

Follow me. Way of the cross.

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 215

Today we acknowledge our trust that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is in dialogue with us. Jesus calls us to proclaim, with him, the Good News of salvation. We ask the grace to “answer readily” like Peter and Andrew, James and John, (see Matthew 4:18-22) and follow where Christ leads.

As this grace is granted to us, we pray that, through us, “the whole world [beginning in our homes, neighborhoods, work places, rest places, and communities] may perceive the glory of [God’s] marvelous works [in Jesus].”

Let us humbly make our prayer and with humility and compassion shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory this week and always. ~Fr. Dan

For further reading

Collect: Second Sunday after Epiphany

A light shining in the darkness

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 215

Many Collects begin by addressing God and include an additional recognition of an attribute of God. Today we acknowledge that the Son of (Almighty) God is Jesus Christ, Savior, and “the light of the world.”  We are beloved daughters and sons of God and kin to Jesus Christ. Consider, today and throughout the week, what we ask of God: that we, kin to Jesus, “illumined by [God’s] Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory.”

As this part of our prayer is granted we pray that, through us, Christ “may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth.”

Let us humbly make our prayer and with humility and compassion shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory this week and always. ~Fr. Dan

For further reading

Collect: The Baptism of our Lord

Mosaic: Baptism of Christ (Detail)

In our Episcopal Lectionary (and the Revised Common Lectionary, too) the first Sunday after the Epiphany (January 6) is dedicated to recalling the Baptism of our Lord.  This event is recorded in all four Gospels. In today’s Collect we pray that we may keep the (Baptismal) Covenant we have made while we “boldly confess [Jesus] as Lord and Savior.” 

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 214

For further reading

Collect for Epiphany

The Feast of the Epiphany is always January 6 in our Liturgical Calendar. This is the Collect (a prayer at the beginning of our worship) used on this Feast Day.

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 214