King Cakes vital — and diverse — part of Mardi Gras fun

The season of Carnival begins on Jan. 6, known as the Epiphany or Twelfth Night, the day the Christ Child was visited by the three kings. And with this date comes an old Louisiana tradition — enjoying King Cakes!

The creation of “King Cakes” began in 12th century France when a cake was baked on the eve of Jan. 6 with a small token hidden inside. Whoever got the token in his or her slice became the royalty of the night.

Keller’s traditional king cake

The king cake tradition made its way to Louisiana, but like all good things we tend to keep it going as long as we can. Cakes are enjoyed on Jan. 6, usually with a small baby inside, and whoever gets the token must buy the next cake and so on it goes. We enjoy our King Cakes, decorated in the Carnival colors of purple, green and gold, until Ash Wednesday, the day following Mardi Gras.

Meche’s King Cake

Louisiana king cakes come plain (with decoration on top), filled with wonderful things like cream cheese, fruit preserves and pecan praline or are created in unique and wonderful ways. Meche’s Donuts of Acadiana, for instance, rolls out its dough the traditional way, then deep fries the oval ring before adding frosting. Little Big Cup coffeeshop in Arnaudville offers mini king cakes, more of a small bite of Carnival heaven. Poupart’s French bakery in Lafayette serves up a more traditional French-style king cake, in addition to the Louisiana variety. Sophi P. Cakes offers the tradition cupcake style. And so it goes.

Little Big Cup Mini King Cakes

In addition to the famous king cake, there are interesting takes on the tradition within our culinary scene. For instance, Freetown Fries gourmet food truck of Lafayette, which serves up different and delicious entrees with home fries, offers a King Cake Fry consisting of sweet potato fries topped with a cream cheese glaze in Carnival colors. Café Vermilionville is offering Carnival cocktails and appetizers for the festive season, including King Cake martinis made up of champagne, spiced rum, amaretto, fresh squeezed orange, Amaretto icing and cream.

Freetown Fries King Cake Fry

Ask anyone in town what their favorite king cake proprietor is and you’ll get a dozen answers. Visitors will generally find king cakes in mini marts, grocery stores and coffee shops as well as bakeries. Here are a few to sample (and by all means not a complete list!):
Gambino’s Bakery, 3802 Johnston, (337) 406-9066, www.gambinos.com
Great Harvest Bread Co., 854A Kaliste Saloom Road, (337) 236-8966, www.greatharvestofacadiana.com
Keller’s Bakery, 1012 Jefferson St., (337) 235-1568, www.kellersbakery.net
Little Big Cup, 149 Fuselier Road, Arnaudville, (337) 754-7147
Meche’s Donut King, 402 Guilbeau Road, (337) 981-4918, and other locations
Poupart’s, 1902 W. Pinhook Road, (337) 232-7921, www.poupartsbakery.com
Sophi P. Cakes, 3209 Johnston St., (337) 456-5582, www.sophipcakes.com
What’s your favorite king cake? Please visit our Facebook page and let us know. Feel free to post photos as well!

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