Jan 18, 2022

You know, I think sanding sprinkles are the work of the devil.
Ugly and cover up a multitude of baking sins.
Funfetti and 100’s and 1000s are OK.
But ONCE a year, I allow myself this transgression.
Why may you ask?

Well, New Orleans, of course! You can be anything you want there.
But they do use the bastard sprinkles throughout King cake season.

What is New Orleans King Cakes, I hear you ask?
Known by all, loved by all and full of memories. Granted one needs a bit more finesse to make a KC and the taste is a 100% better than our beloved Lollie cake. 

Now don’t get them confused with the King cakes like galettes or the many King Cake variations worldwide.
Having that melting pot of history, New Orleans has solid catholic roots from the French and Spanish settlers. The New Orleans King Cake is thought to have arrived in about 1870 with the French colonists.
In New Orleans, King Cake is eaten from Epiphany until Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Mardi gras can vary between February and March; it depends on when Easter will fall, but January 6th is the start (the 12th night), and it also marks the beginning of the Mardi gras season.

Traditionally, the King Cake has a feve (a plastic baby in the New Orleans case!) in the cake.
It was sort of like when they had pennies or threepence in Christmas cakes until the PC safety cake police came along and stopped that.
If you are lucky enough to get the baby, you shout the next King Cake and rule supreme for that night. Sometimes it can mean you pay for drinks or dinner, but it is very good luck to get the baby.

I have been waiting for a splendid book released last year to arrive on my doorstep about all the different King Cake makers in New Orleans. My next mission in New Orleans, when we can travel again, is to head straight to every place in that book! 

Traditional these cates are round/oval rings with whitish icing and dusted with purple, gold and green sanding sprinkles. The colours represent justice, faith and power. They can be stuffed with cinnamon butter, praline filled, raspberry cream cheese, and so many delicious varieties, even cheese and sausage ( Yes, there are savoury ones too).

Manny Randazzo has been making them since 1965, and people line up to get them. Caludas, Dhong Phuong and Haydels are other firm favourites. Broccatos in Mid-city, and they have amazing gelato too. Mmmmmm, King Cake and gelato.

Here are some great links that I frequently look at to see what is happening:

But don’t take my word for it; you need to taste them for yourself or, even better, sign up for our course on making a King Cake.

One neat thing is there is no right or wrong King Cake in New Orleans; yes, people have their favourites, and there are old traditional ones that everyone supports, but new versions are welcome and celebrated BUT beware as there are many critiques!!

Everyone has their recipe, even though most people buy them.
Not having a King Cake shop here ( The Pied Piper in Auckland I think now does a version), I did consider getting Randazzo to ship me one, but I wasn’t sure how it would arrive, but they do come with beads, coins and other mardi gras bits, so maybe next year.

Each time I make one at home, I try another recipe. I have tried everything from traditional cream cheese filling, savoury types, cinnamon butter. This year will be doing a praline and maybe trying a traditional one with the black n gold saints icing rather than the three traditional colours.

So time for you to give it a go and join my King Cake workshop.