Mardi Gras season begins with a King Cake

Back home, Mardi Gras used to mean a day of decadent indulgence relegated solely to the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Now that I’m living in the motherland of this holiday, I understand that, like all things in Louisiana, this is not to be taken lightly.

Christmas wreaths and Tiger gear that hung upon front doors a month ago have now been replaced with flashy green, yellow, and purple Mardi Gras adornments. Front lawns and store windows all overflow in anticipation for the upcoming parades and celebrations. And every food establishment is proudly advertising the sale of their King Cakes.

The King Cake is a fun Mardi Gras tradition and I think that Northerners are depriving themselves by not partaking in this sweet ritual. The King Cake is akin to a cinnamon roll, sometimes stuffed, with a lot of icing and sprinkles. Inside the cake, the baker hides a plastic baby Jesus and whoever gets the baby in their piece of cake is responsible for buying the next King Cake.

Several reliable sources insisted that true and traditional King Cakes are best from bakeries in New Orleans but that Shreveport did have a few places where I could get something (almost) as good. Their words, not mine.

The first King Cake I tried was from Julie Anne’s on the corner of Line Avenue and Kings Highway.

I bought one that was stuffed with a brownie cheesecake filling.

Check out the warning label about the plastic baby inside.

When I cut the first piece, guess what?

I got the baby Jesus! I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been told this means good luck.

The cake was amazing. Kind of like a Domino’s stuffed crust pizza except the crust is like a coffee cake with a brownie cheesecake filling.

A few days later, a colleague brought me a King Cake from Gambino’s. A place here in town, called Barrakooda Bites, brings the cakes up from this New Orleans bakery a few times a week.

I was told this is a more traditional King Cake because traditional King Cakes aren’t stuffed.

Can't argue with the label. It is the "King" of King Cakes.

I ate one piece.

Then I ate several more.

It was SO good.

And I didn’t get the baby.

But I kind of wished I did so that I would have an excuse to immediately buy another one…

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