If you are not from New Orleans, January 6th might just be an ordinary day, or perhaps you know it as the Epiphany or King’s Day. But for us New Orleanians, January 6th marks the start of something spectacular….CARNIVAL! The parades, floats, marching bands, traditions and throws are all great fun, but my favorite part of Carnival is the KING CAKE!
King’s Day (January 6th) is celebrated as the date the gift-bearing kings visited the baby Jesus. The King Cake is baked in honor of the three kings and the baby (plastic, porcelain or gold) placed inside the cake symbolizes the baby Jesus. Originally, these oval cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today’s King Cakes are much more festive! After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the “baby” is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple, green and gold.
In New Orleans, King Cake parties are held throughout the Carnival Season (generally on Friday). The person who receives the slice of cake with the baby inside is asked to continue the festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.
If you are looking to be a part of this NOLA tradition, I thought I would help you find some of the BEST places to buy King Cake (and I should know because over the course of my 36 years, I have tasted a LOT of King Cake!).
5. Tastee Donuts: While MacKenzie’s Bakery no longer exists in NOLA, Tastee’s bought their King Cake recipe and now offers the traditional MacKenzie’s King Cake. This is the only kind of King Cake my Grandmother used to buy when I was little, so this particular recipe brings back memories!
4. Gambino’s: While Gambino’s is known for their Doberche Cakes, they make a mean King Cake, too! These King Cakes can be stuffed with cream cheese, pecan praline, raspberry, peach, pineapple, blueberry, strawberry, lemon, apple, cherry or chocolate brownie! I recommend the cream cheese! Gambino’s offers some great packages to give out-of-towners a real Carnival experience.
3. Haydel’s: In September, Haydel’s created a World’s Record for the largest King Cake ever made… it actually circled the New Orleans SuperDome! This Carnival, they are celebrating by offering the World Record King Cake Care Package which includes one large Traditional or Filled King Cake plus Haydel’s own Mambo Beat Mardi Gras Magazine, a king cake history scroll, one pack of Haydel’s Coffee and Chicory, Haydel’s Specialty Bead Pack, this year’s handcrafted Porcelain Collectible (while supplies last), Mardi Gras CD, Mardi Gras poster and a World Record Edition Mardi Gras cup. Follow Haydel’s on Twitter so you don’t miss any special deals!
3. (tie) Mandeville Bake Shop (Krummel’s): Not on the Southshore? No problem! Try out this Northshore favorite!
2. Randazzo’s: Making King Cakes since 1965, Randazzo’s is the favorite of many locals. The line remains out of the door, through the parking lot and down the street which means they are doing something right! From now through Mardi Gras Eve (known as Lundi Gras), you can have a King Cake shipped just about anywhere!
1. Sucre: Even though I was born and raised in New Orleans, I was just introduced to the Sucre King Cake last year for a product review. This is by far the prettiest King Cake I have ever seen….and the tastiest. For only $20, you can own a slice of heaven! I absolutely cannot wait to get one this year. In fact, I loved it so much, I shipped a few of these to friends last year so I wouldn’t be the only one to love Sucre!
Happy King’s Day! Where are you going to get your King Cake?