What is a "Twelfth Night Cake"?
My Mom's already talking about the Christmas holidays, even though it's the summer. This year, she tells me, she really wants us to get a Twelfth Night Cake. Um, Dave, what on Earth is a Twelfth Night Cake?
Man, where do these offbeat questions come from and how do people think I can answer them? I don't even know what an eleventh night cake is, so how would I know about a twelfth night cake?
Fortunately, I do have Google and with just a bit of research I have figured out what your Mom's talking about!
Remember, there are twelve day of Christmas, so the Twelfth Night Cake is to celebrate the end of Christmas. Generally it was celebrated in Victorian England (which is why we haven't heard of it before) and the cakes are generally decorated with candied fruit and have a hint of orange in the flavor.
The Twelfth Night celebrations celebrated the date honoring the arrival of the three wise men in Bethlehem, twelve days after the birth of Jesus. It's also called the Feast of the Epiphany.
Wait, it's more fun: according to one cooking site, "Buried in this "Cake of Kings" was a bean, a tradition that dates back to Roman times. The guest who found the bean in his or her serving of cake would be named the king or queen of the revelry."
While this isn't celebrated much in the United States, online sources suggest that the tradition of "King Cakes" in New Orleans have evolved from Twelfth Night Cakes, so if you're in Louisiana, take a break from the crayfish and gumbo and check to see if they have a king cake you can try for dessert!
Want to try cooking one of these for yourself? Turns out that no less than the NY Times has a recipe: Twelfth Night Cake recipe.
Good luck. If it's fabulous, send us a piece!
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