There have been many different style king cakes throughout history. Most of them originate back to Epiphany (The Twelfth day after Christmas), and the biblical kings bringing gifts to honor the Child Jesus in Bethlehem. The kingcake has taken its tour throughout the world, displaying traditions from each culture.
The authentic French kingcakes, known as “La galette des Rois” (The cake or “wafer” of the Kings) is made of puff pastry layers, and has a dense center of frangipane. La galette des Rois are sold and consumed during the month of January, Celebrating the Epiphany. French Kingcakes have a small trinket hidden inside as do the New Orleans style KingCakes, but these french cake figurines resemble cartoon characters or cars, etc… instead of the traditional “baby.”
The Mexican KingCakes are known as “La Rosca de Reyes” or the “Roscón de Reyes” in Spain (both mean King Cake). These kingcakes are customarily eaten on January 6, during the Dia de Reyes Celebration (The Wise Men Day). The Rosca de Reyes is made in an oval shape with dried or candied fruit for decoration, commonly using figs or cherries. The traditional figurine representing the Child Jesus is followed in these Mexican kingcakes.
Southern Louisiana kingcakes are made of cinnamon bread dough, resembling brioche. This dough is braided or twisted and then baked and decorated. The New Orleans style kingcakes we all know and love are decorated in the colors of Purple, Green, and Gold. These colors are the authentic carnival colors, chosen by the Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch Romanoff of Russia during a visit to New Orleans in 1872. Purple meaning Justice, Green for Faith, and Gold standing for Power. King Cakes in Southern Louisiana date back to the eighteenth century, but in more recent history some New Orleans bakeries have begun to add their own touches to the traditional king cakes by adding a variety of flavored fillings including; apple, blueberry, chocolate, lemon, pineapple, raspberry, bavarian cream, cherry, cream cheese, pecan praline or strawberry. Many bakers even create custom king cakes featured sports team colors, special shapes for the holidays, and more interesting and unique ideas.