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(WT) The Magi ~ King Cake Cooking Workshop

The Magi

"King Cake" Cooking Workshop Lesson

from the Rotation.org Writing Team

Magi-kingcakebaby

Lesson Summary

Students will create, bake, and take home their own traditional "King Cake" to celebrate the revealing (epiphany) of Christ as the newborn king heralded and worshiped by the Magi. As part of their Bible study, they will design a parchment paper cover for their cake that shares insights from the lesson.

Note: Our writer created a "simpler at-home" version of this lesson as well and posted it in our Epiphany forum. Take a look.

About the "King Cake"

As seen below, this lesson uses a quick assembly and fast baking King Cake recipe that allows the teacher and students to focus on the meaning of the lesson, rather than getting lost in mixing ingredients and long bake times. As an option, the cakes can be prepared for baking at home.

King Cakes are a traditional and fun part of New Orleans' Carnival season that begins with Epiphany and ends with Mardi Gras (aka Shrove Tuesday) to make way for Ash Wednesday and the solemn season of Lent. Both the celebration and the cake were originally themed as celebrations of the visit of the Magi and the Kingship of Christ. In addition to hiding baby Jesus in the cake for a lucky celebrant to receive a blessing upon finding him, the cake is decorated with the three colors of Mardi Gras (purple, green, gold)—which are also the traditional colors of the three gifts and three Magi. Students will learn the hidden meaning of the colors as they decorate the cake and take it home to celebrate the meaning of the Magi's story with their family.

Read more about the Magi Mardi Gras connection here at Rotation.org.

Scripture

Matthew 2:1-12
they saw the star
they were overjoyed
they saw the child
they bowed down and worshiped
they opened their treasures
they returned to their country
(NIV)

Supplies and Advanced Preparation

  • Read the Bible Background and Lesson Objectives for this lesson set.
  • Cake ingredients and baking supplies (amounts required will depend on whether you are making a single cake or one per student–see recipe for details):
    • crescent roll dough
    • cream cheese, softened
    • white sugar
    • cinnamon
    • vanilla
    • lemon juice
    • butter
    • icing sugar
    • water
    • sugar sprinkles (yellow, purple, and green)
    • cooking spray or oil for greasing pans
    • forks
    • knife
    • pastry brush
  • Foil cake (pie) pans for each student, if making individual cakes.
  • Ice cubes and sandwich bags (if unbaked cakes to be taken home).
  • Purchase the Baby Jesus figurines, one per cake/student (inexpensively available in bulk at your favorite online store).
  • Squares of parchment or butcher paper (or purchase white cardboard covers with the foil cake pan) to write on and cover the cake for transport.
  • Colored markers: purple, gold, and green to write on the cake tin cover.
  • Whiteboard or flipchart. (If time is short, write three questions -in Bible Study below- in advance.)
  • Make copies of baking instructions to go home that read "15 minutes or so at 350."
  • Print or prepare photos to show of traditional King Cakes and the Magi at Mardi Gras.
  • View the instructional YouTube video "World's Easiest King Cake" at https://youtu.be/v3hGssG5By8
  • Make a cake in advance (if children will be taking home their cakes).

Click the image to open the video in Youtube:



A Simple King Cake Recipe:

The following recipe is based on the one described in the video. Adjust to the size and number of cakes you will be making.

Use Crescent Roll Dough:
2 packages of crescent rolls make one full-size cake.
If you are making individual King Cakes, adjust ingredients accordingly. Using 2 packages of crescent rolls will make approximately 4 small student-created King Cakes. The roll triangles can be stretched and squeezed to fit into a smaller circle.

The Cinnamon & Cream Cheese Filling
According to the video, the ingredients and amounts will make enough filling for one full-size cake. Thus, the following amounts will make enough filling for four small student-created cakes. Be sure to have extra on hand.

Magi-kingcakeMagi-kingcake2Magi-kingcake3Magi-kingcake-sugarSteps:

  1. Make the filling by mixing together approximately 1 pack of cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp lemon juice until creamy. This is enough filling for three or four small King Cakes each made with 1/2 of a roll of crescent dough. Adjust per your needs. (The filling amounts described above are half the amount mentioned in the video, but she also mentions that she made twice as much filling as she needed for one full-sized cake.) After mixing the filling, set it aside.
  2. Separate the roll triangles and place on a lightly greased sheet or foil pan to form a circle. Pointy ends to the center. Make sure the edges overlap.
    We suggest using a foil cake pan so that each student can make his own and take it home baked or unbaked.
  3. Brush triangles with butter.
  4. Mash the seams together with a fork all around the middle of each triangle where the cream cheese will go (this will keep it from oozing out during baking).
  5. Sprinkle the dough with cinnamon sugar.
  6. Spoon on the cream cheese filling
  7. Fold the wide end of triangles over the filling, then fold small center points of triangles over the top. Press to keep filling from oozing out.
  8. Place in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes (checking early depending on size).

    Break for Bible Study and Parchment Cover Activity

  9. Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes while you make enough simple white icing to glaze the still warm King Cake.
  10. Before glazing, use a knife to cut a small slit in the underside of the cake to hide the Christ Child figure inside.
  11. Drizzle white glaze over the cake. Make designs, words, symbols, if desired.
  12. Liberally sprinkle traditional colored sugars over the glaze: yellow (power), purple (justice), and green (faith) colors.
  13. Cover with the paper cover you created during the Bible study.


Baking Time and Other Considerations

Baking time is approximately 15 to 18 minutes @ 350 for smaller cakes. If you don't have the time or oven space, cakes can be prepared to take home for baking (include baking instructions). Check each cake's dough seams before placing it in the oven so that the filling does not spill out and burn.  The teacher should prepare a King Cake for the entire class ahead of time (baked or unbaked depending on how much time you have) to decorate and enjoy during the lesson, whether student cakes will be baked in the church or taken home.

Adjustments:

If you are baking the King Cakes during the lesson, you will have to ice them while still warm—which will cause the icing to turn into a thin glaze. Fortunately, sprinkling yellow, purple, and green colored sugar is a King Cake tradition too! ...which is why our recipe above has students sprinkling colored sugar on the icing-glaze.

If you are preparing the cakes to go home, the cream cheese can only be left at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours. Place a couple of ice cubes in a sealed sandwich bag and place it in the center of the crescent ring to make it last longer.

Traditional King Cakes are circular to represent the eternal nature of Christ. If you need to reduce the cost of ingredients, you can have students prepare and decorate sections of the cake (including their own baby) and then assemble the sections for baking. You can also simply make smaller ring cakes using fewer crescent role triangles per cake and overlapping them a little more to create a small circle.

Smaller student-made King Cakes will bake faster so keep an eye on them.



Lesson Plan

As in many cooking workshop lessons, students need to get a head start on preparing the food in order to get it in the oven. Scripture and discussion will take place during baking time.

The teacher should prepare a King Cake for the class to enjoy during the Reflection time if the student-baked (or prepared) cakes will be going home.

Opening

Welcome your students and explain how today's lesson will unfold.

Show a picture of a traditional King Cake and the Magi as they are traditionally portrayed at Mardi Gras celebrations. Explain the connection between the cake and the Magi (see notes below).

Prepare the King Cakes

Wash hands and follow the recipe and steps described above in this lesson.

If you are baking the cakes at church, set a timer and assign a helper with the responsibility of checking on the cakes.

If you are preparing the cakes to go home, once assembled, place them in a refrigerator while you conduct the Bible study and create a paper cover for the individual cakes.

Reminder: You will be decorating the cakes after the Bible Study.

Bible Study

The following brief study assumes your students are acquainted with the story, and thus spends its time on the meaning of the story using the rubric of the three traditional colors of Mardi Gras and your King Cake sugars. The three colors are sometimes correlated to the three gifts, though this is simply a loose tradition. The point is that, like the gifts, the colors help teach the meaning of the story. Feel free to adjust per your needs and age group.

Write the following three questions on the board, then read the story found in Matthew 2:1-12 and briefly discuss these questions and concepts. In the next activity, students will transfer these colors and their meaning to a cover for their King Cake.

What were the Magi hoping that baby Jesus would bring to the world?

  1. Power... the power to do what?  (Gold = power, authority, who's in charge?)
  2. Justice.... what is justice? and what kind of law or rule would Jesus bring?  (Purple is the color of royalty, but also the color of "justice.")
  3. Faith... what kind of faith did Jesus bring into the world?  To be afraid of God? To just obey rules? (Green = a living faith, a living and loving relationship. How is your faith "alive"?)


Making the Paper Covers

Students will write on the cake covers before decorating the cake because tables and hands will get messy during decorating.

Give each student a square of paper or cardboard cover. Distribute the three colors of markers and remind the students what each represents based on the reading and discussion you just conducted.

The cover needs a title, name, and a few words about the meaning of the colors in the form of a question that family members can ask. Example shown below:

kingcakecover-rotation.org

After decorating the covers, set them aside and decorate the cakes.

Decorating the Cakes  *if you baked them at church*

  • Mix the white glaze and drizzle on the cake in any pattern desired.
  • Sprinkle the three colors of sugar on the cake.
  • Seal the cake tin with your paper topper. Add instructions if needed.

*If you are short on time and need to send the cakes home to be decorated, have students help pour a suitable amount of the three colored sugars and white icing in separate sealable baggies, and place under the tin foil for transport home with instructions.


Adaptations

For younger children and shorter class times: Prepare the crescent rolls on pans before class starts. Let students mix the filling and place it. Prepare the white glaze ahead of time and put it in baggies they can use to squeeze onto their cakes.  Be sure to cut the paper toppers ahead of time and write some of the info on the paper.

You can make your own "crescent roll" dough ahead of time and bring into class.

Note: Our writer created a "simpler at-home" version of this lesson as well and posted it in our Epiphany forum. Take a look.

King Cakes, The Magi, and Mardi Gras

Read the article in the next post!


Written by Amy Crane and the Rotation.org Writing Team
Copyright Rotation.org Inc.

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Last edited by Neil MacQueen
Original Post

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