by Ian McNulty
The Carnival season king cake tradition is more than just alive and well. These days, it seems to be positively surging, with bakeries and restaurants across the spectrum giving these cakes their own spins and sometimes turning heads with their new interpretations.
Cochon Butcher has been making specialty king cakes for the past few seasons. Rhonda Ruckman, pastry chef for the Link Restaurant Group, prepares both single-serving size and family-size cakes in flavors that are traditional, like cinnamon, or decidedly not, like the “Elvis,” with peanut butter, banana, bacon and marshmallow. Domenica is getting in on the action this year too, with pastry chef Lisa White making an elaborate version filled with salted caramel, sliced bananas, pecans and mascarpone and iced with a praline glaze sprinkled with gold leaf. You can order these a day in advance for pick-up at the restaurant, or place a day-of rush order for an extra fee.
Cake Café & Bakery broke the mold a few years ago with its goat cheese and apple-filled king cake (pictured above), and over in Gretna the Hi-Do Bakery (441 Terry Pkwy., Gretna, 504-366-6555) has made a specialty of traditional-tasting king cakes configured into nontraditional shapes. Shellfish designs and massive, edible fleur de lis emblems are popular.
These are not your parents’ king cakes, but your kids might have even more creative ideas when it’s their turn to carry on the tradition. They can get a leg up on things next weekend when the Southern Food & Beverage Museum hosts a children’s workshop to introduce the next generation to king cakes.
The event is part of the museum’s ongoing Saturday Kids Camp, and during this one youngsters will make icing to decorate their own mini king cakes as they learn about the tradition. The event is on Jan. 26, from 11 a.m. to noon at the museum. It costs $5 (free for museum members) and you can register here.
Southern Food & Beverage Museum
Riverwalk Marketplace (Julia St. entrance), 504-569-0405