This week Ian McNulty turns his attention to king cakes, creative king cakes to be exact. McNulty notes that the history of Carnival's signature sweet goes back to the Middles Ages, but SoFAB prez Liz Williams, points out that king cakes didn't really make a first appearance in office break rooms in New Orleans until the 1980s. Before that, they were mostly children's party fare.
Today, bakers and pastry chefs have modified recipes and offer all sorts of variations from traditional brioche to full-on stuffed and gold dusted cray cray. Is the creativity going too far? Cochon apparently put the kibash on pastry chef Rhonda Ruckman's plans for a savory king cake filled with sweet potato, house-made sausage and cane syrup, to which half of the city is likely crying come to us, pork cake. Maybe next year. Here now, are McNulty's creative king cake picks.
ManhattanJack: The year old bakery, run by pastry chefs Jack Petronella and Coleman Jernigan, features a traditional brioche king cake with a toy jacks piece instead of a baby. They're also doing a pretty-groovy S shaped king cake.
Cake Cafe: the filled cake with apples and goat cheese
Cochon: Known for single-serving cakes (as well as larger ones) including lemon doberge and the Elvis with peanut butter, banana and candied bacon.
Domenica: McNulty calls this the "most audacious" of the bunch, because "pastry chef Lisa White fills her cakes with mascarpone, sliced bananas and pecans and tops it with salted caramel and enough edible gold leaf to interest a pawnbroker. At $39, it's kingly in every way."
Sucre: Tarriq Hannah upset some people with his stunning, air-brushed version debuted in 2008, but haters gonna hate, and anyways... "from 100 cakes produced in 2008, Sucre made 15,000 in 2013 and this year, with a longer Carnival season, Hanna anticipates they'll make up to 26,000."
· Bakers Still Getting Creative With Essential Carnival Treat [Advocate]
· All King Cake Coverage [-ENOLA-]