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3 King Cake Recipes Just in Time for Mardi Gras

3 King Cake Recipes Just in Time for Mardi Gras
King Cake from Executive Pastry Chef Maggie Scales of Cochon Butcher and La Boulangerie in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Cochon Restaurant.

King cakes, a quintessential Mardi Gras treat, descended from a cake served by the Romans at the Saturnalia Fest. The Romans baked a bean inside their version, and ever since then all sorts of trinkets have been concealed in the cake, like plastic pigs, pieces of candy, and today’s tiny baby. Mardi Gras begins on January 6th, the twelfth night after Christmas, and the search for the plastic baby in the king cake signifies the three kings’ search for baby Jesus. Custom dictates that whoever finds the baby is said to have good luck for the day, as well as the responsibility of throwing the next Mardi Gras party (or at least supplying the king cake).

We have three versions of king cakes from New Orleans chefs to celebrate Mardi Gras. First, Kristen Essig of Meauxbar bakes a traditional French galette de rois. Her cake has a puff pastry crust that’s filled with an almond-brandy butter filling and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar. Meanwhile, Executive Pastry Chef Maggie Scales of Cochon Butcher and La Boulangerie bakes a buttery brioche cake with a cinnamon filling that’s drizzled with a vanilla sugar icing and sprinkled with purple, green, and gold sanding sugars. And Lisa White of Willa Jean fills her brioche base with bananas, toasted pecans, and a mascarpone filling with a smattering of caramel sauce.

Galette de Rois

From Kristen Essig of Meauxbar

King Cake

From Maggie Scales of Cochon Butcher and La Boulangerie

King of King Cakes

From Lisa White of Willa Jean

Southern Sources for King Cakes

Cochon Butcher, 930 Tchoupitoulas Street
and La Boulangerie, 4600 Magazine Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

Gottlieb’s
1304 US-80, Savannah, Georgia

Feast and Forest
212 24th Street North, Birmingham, Alabama

Scratch
416 Treble Street, Durham, North Carolina

Sugar Mama’s
2406 Manor Road, Austin, Texas

Willa Jean
611 O’Keefe Avenue, New Orleans, Louisiana

Wild Flour Pastry
73 Spring Street, Charleston, South Carolina