King Cakes

It may be the post-Katrina Mardi Gras diaspora that helped spread this delicious culinary component of the Crescent City's favorite holiday

King Cakes
Photo by John Anderson

There are more king cakes available in Austin this year than ever before. Is it the post-Katrina Mardi Gras diaspora that spread this delicious culinary component of the Crescent City's favorite holiday celebration? Whatever the reason for the trend, Bakerman's Patisserie and Chocolatier owner and New Orleans native Hope Arabie is glad to see it. "I love making king cakes, and I'm happy that more people are ordering them every year. It makes Austin feel more like home," she told me last week. In New Orleans, king cakes are a regular feature of the carnival season, showing up for the Feast of the Epiphany (Jan. 6, the 12th day of Christmas) and holding a place of honor at parties and celebrations through Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Lent begins. The brightly decorated crowns of sweetened yeast dough have a baby (representing the Christ child), a bean, or a coin baked into the dough, and the person who finds the treasure in his or her slice is responsible for providing the king cake at the next party. Though Austin doesn't celebrate the entire carnival season as yet, king cakes are growing in popularity and can be purchased at the following local businesses with 24 hours notice.

Bakerman's Patisserie and Chocolatier (120 E. Seventh, 476-0060) Hope Arabie's cakes are lovely and delicious, filled with a choice of traditional cinnamon sugar or cream cheese, napped with frosting dusted with bright-green, purple, and gold sanding sugar and plenty of Mardi Gras beads. Half-sheet, $13; full sheet, $27.

Sweetish Hill Bakery (1120 W. Sixth, 472-1347) Austin's oldest French bakery is preparing both the traditional French galette des rois with almond-paste filling and the New Orleans-style sweet yeast dough filled with cinnamon sugar.

La Madeleine (three locations) This French bakery/cafe always features the classic French galette des rois.

Quack's 43rd Street Bakery (411 E. 43rd, 453-3399) Quirky Quack's will offer its personal king cake interpretation the weekend before Mardi Gras.

The Upper Crust Bakery (4508 Burnet Rd., 467-0102) The artisan baker here uses a sweet Danish dough for the brightly decorated cake, $18.

Whole Foods Market (both stores) New Orleans-style sweet yeast dough braids filled with cinnamon sugar ($10.99), praline, or raspberry cream cheese ($12.99).

Central Market (both stores) New Orleans-style sweet yeast dough braids filled with cinnamon sugar, cream cheese, or strawberry cream cheese ($9.99).

Fiesta (both stores) Small New Orleans-style cakes fully decorated ($7.99).

Cypress Grill (4404 W. William Cannon Ste. L, 358-7474) This popular Cajun/creole restaurant imports king cakes from the legendary Gambino's Bakery in New Orleans every week and serves them with meals for prizes!

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