Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans and beyond always culminate with Fat Tuesday, the day before the Christian holiday of Lent.

One of the traditional dishes of Mardi Gras is the king cake. This cake is usually served sometime during the week before Fat Tuesday, and there's a hidden surprise in the cake. The person served the piece with the hidden surprise is required to host next year's party where the king cake is served.

I knew this much about the king cake, but I didn't know its entire history. I'm going to be making a king cake tonight, using a recipe that uses my bread machine (the king cake is actually more of a bread/pastry than a regular cake).

In the meantime, this video taught me a few things about the king cake, and I thought I’d share it with you.

Editor's note: This file was originally published in March 2011 and has been updated.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

What is a Mardi Gras king cake?
Do you know the history and tradition of the Mardi Gras king cake?