The twelfth day of Christmas, known as Epiphany, is the kickoff to a whole season of “King Cake” baking in New Orleans. During Carnival season, folks bake this ring-shaped pastry with brioche dough, with a plastic baby hidden inside. The lucky person who finds the baby is “king” for a day… and, in some traditions, is obligated to host the next party. It’s a virtuous, party-giving circle, all the way through Mardi Gras.
Johnette Downing has recorded many albums featuring the music and traditions of the New Orleans area she calls home, not to mention having written and illustrated a number of books as well. Her latest book, Who Got the Baby in the King Cake?, recounts the tradition.
To go along with the book, Downing and her husband Scott Billington recruited a trio of Crescent City heavy hitters for a horn front line (trumpeter Kevin Clark, trombonist Craig Klein, and clarinetist Tim Laughlin) to record the book’s accompanying musical track. It grooves and struts sounds classically New Orleans. (The track is from Downing and Billington’s forthcoming album Swamp Romp.)
Anyway, there’s a video to go along with it, which also features Downing’s vibrant illustrations. It’s a bunch of fun. Here’s hoping you find the baby in at least king cake this season.
Johnette Downing - “Who Got the Baby in the King Cake” [YouTube]