General Tso’s chicken, Fajitas and King Cake may not be as authentic as we have made them out to be.
We claim these foods are Chinese, Mexican and French.
However, they are not authentic in the slightest.
America has a habit of taking foods from other cultures and putting its own spin on them—also known as “Americanizing“.
Since Mardi Gras is this weekend, what better time to discover the true origin of the king cake! This is the king cake that anyone who is familiar with Mardi Gras in the U.S. would recognize. There is a baby figurine baked inside, and the person who discovers it in their slice is king (or queen) for a day.
According to tradition, they also have the task of hosting the Mardi Gras party the next year. However, you would find nothing of the sort in France, where the king cake or la galette des Rois originated. The King Cake that the French gobble up is much flakier and has an almond filling inside.
Similar to the American version, la galette des Rois has a fève (figurine) hidden inside and the person who discovers it is king or queen for the day. In order to keep the distribution of slices fair, a child hides under the table as the cake is cut. Without looking at the cake, they say who gets each piece. Check out this video for a more in-depth look at the tradition (and learn some French while you’re at it!)
If you would like to make an authentic version, here is a recipe I translated from French. Enjoy!
- 2 rolls of puff pastry (premade)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup almond powder
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 egg for glaze
- 1 small figurine
- Place sugar, almond powder, 2 eggs and almond extract into bowl. Mash in the butter.
- Use electric mixer to cream.
- Spread puff pastry in design of your choice. Usually a circle, but this recipe chose to use a rectangle.
- Mix egg for glaze. Line the edges of the dough with part of the glaze, but leave some for the top.
- Place almond filling on top of one of the puff pastry dough pieces. Place small figurine on almond filling.
- Place the second puff pastry piece on top. Seal with your fingers.
- Use a knife to create a design along the edge and center of the dough.
- Use a knife to create a hole in the middle of the top to allow steam to escape.
- Brush the remaining egg glaze on top to help the crust brown.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.