If you’re not eating king cake in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, you’re missing out. Like a lot of things in New Orleans the king cake has an eclectic history.
“Who’s your favorite baker?” is a great conversation starter because it’s something any local (and many non-locals) can answer, and loyalties run deep. A few favorites are Gambino’s, Haydel’s and Manny Randazzo’s.
Nostalgic stories abound of now-defunct bakers who created the best king cakes of all time and will never be matched again, ever, by anyone. But sometimes those sacred recipes find a new life. For instance anyone missing McKenzie’s can taste it at Tasty Donut.
There are also dynasties and offshoot royalties. For instance, Dianne’s King Cakes are made by the ex-wife of the man who founded one of the largest local bakeries. (I’ve had both, and I’m with Dianne.)
“Traditional or Non-Traditional?” is the other key point of debate. Traditional king cakes are like cinnamon pastries. Non-traditional cakes are filled with ooey gooey goodness like cream cheese, apple, cherry filling, pralines, or even savory-sweet flavors like goat cheese and apple. You can guess which camp I’m in.
Ready for your own tasting? Let’s get started!
Here’s a biased Best Of list compiled by Ryan and I (ok ok…mostly me):
Best Non-Traditional: Cake Café & Bakery’s goat cheese and apple king cake
Best Traditional: Antoine’s
Second Runner-Up: Sweet Savors Bakery LLC
Stickiest: Domenica’s Banana Caramel King Cake
Less Sweet but Fab: Hi-Do Bakery
Low Expectations, High Praise: Rouse’s
The healthiest thing about king cake? Debate! What’s your favorite? We won’t leave any good king cake unturned…