I have been to New Orleans twice in my life, but never for Mardi Gras. In 2004 I was living with my parents between gigs, and I happened upon a King Cake in a grocery store in Pittsburgh. It was the day before Fat Tuesday, so I decided to buy it and make a Cajun style meal with the help of Zatarain’s boxed meals, and grab some hurricane mix. It was a much-needed diversion from the cold and bleak winter we were having.
Fast forward to 2006. I decided to have a second go at the Mardi Gras party, as it was another depressing winter. I couldn’t find King Cake in NYC and certainly couldn’t afford to have one shipped from New Orleans, so I decided to make one of my own. It’s a time-consuming process, as it takes about 3 hours total, but it’s worth the effort. So I decided I would make one every year, and throw a big party to justify making this labor intensive cake.
Over the years some cakes have been better than others, and so have some parties. There have been a few dramas that have unfolded, resulting in some friendships ending. One year a dear friend of mine ate a large majority of the cake because he wanted to find the baby, which we still joke about to this day. I have made vegan cakes, cakes for coworkers, as well as cakes that were way too big. It’s been a lot of fun.
This year marks the 7th annual party, and I now have a KitchenAid mixer to help me with the process. It makes the cake lighter and less dense than when I make it by hand. If you want to make your own King Cake, THIS is the recipe I use. I love it. My only suggestion is to prep everything before you start, as I normally get the yeast going, and have only 10 minutes to get the rest of the ingredients ready. Then as my family knows, the balling and jamming commences…
If you want more info on the history of the King Cake, click HERE.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
*all photos by yours truly