Local churches celebrate Mardi Gras before Lent

Published 5:53 am Wednesday, February 18, 2009

By Staff
The season of Mardi Gras will culminate next Tuesday in splash of parties, parades and feasts.
Father Adrian Cook of St. Maurice Catholic Church said Fat Tuesday festivities focus on many things, with feasting as one of the main events of the day.
Members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church will celebrate Shrove Tuesday with a traditional pancake supper.
Cook said one of the sacrifices often practiced during the Lenten season is to abstain from eating meat.
Cook said King Cakes have long been a tradition among revelers during the holiday season.
Cook said the tradition of King Cakes has much significance, but the most popular part of a King Cake is a tiny, hidden trinket.
King Cake, as it has been described, is very similar to an oversized cinnamon roll. Variations on the cake can be found with a variety of fillings and frostings. However, the most popular topping for the sweet confection is colored sugar sprinkles in green, gold and purple.
The colors displayed on the top of most King Cakes carry special significance. Purple is used to symbolize justice. Green represents faith while gold symbolizes power.
Traditional King Cakes are prepared much like cinnamon rolls utilizing yeast as an important ingredient. In lieu of a time consuming recipe, a quick and easy recipe follows.
Quick King Cake
3 (14 ounce) cans refrigerated sweet roll dough
2 (12 fluid ounce) cans creamy vanilla ready-to-spread frosting
1/4 cup milk
2 drops green food coloring
2 drops yellow food coloring
1 drop red food coloring
1 drop blue food coloring
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet. Open the cans of sweet roll dough and unroll the dough from each can into 3 strands. Working on a clean surface, place 3 dough strands side by side and gather them together to make one large strand. Fold this in half, and roll slightly to make a fat log. Repeat steps with the remaining dough. Place each log on the prepared baking sheet and shape to make a ring, overlapping the ends and pinching them together to make a complete circle. Pat the dough into shape as necessary to make the ring even in size all the way around. Cover loosely with foil. Bake in preheated oven until firm to the touch and golden brown, 50 to 60 minutes. Check often for doneness so the ring doesn’t over bake. Place on a wire rack and cool completely. Place the cake ring on a serving plate. Cut a slit along the inside of the ring and insert a small plastic baby, pushing it far enough into the cake to be hidden from view. Divide the frosting evenly between four bowls. Stir one tablespoon of milk into each bowl to thin the frosting. Use the frosting in one bowl to drizzle over the cooled cake. To the remaining three bowls of frosting, stir yellow food coloring into one and green into another. Stir the red and blue food colorings together with the frosting in a third bowl to make purple frosting. Drizzle the cake with yellow, green, and purple frostings in any desired pattern.
In lieu of colored frostings, cover cake with white frosting and use colored sugars to create stripes of color on the cake’s surface.
Other traditions around the holiday include ridding the house of flour, butter and the like by hosting pancake suppers.
Members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church traditionally host such an event on the evening of Fat Tuesday.
Layton said the tradition of serving pancakes on the eve of Lent has been around for many years.
The men at St. Stephen’s typically serve up traditional pancakes complete with lots of butter and syrup, Layton said.
If you’re interested in preparing a platter full of basic pancakes, the following recipe may serve the purpose.
Old Fashioned Pancakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, whichever name you prefer, falls on Tuesday, Feb. 24.