Recently Scott Reitz forwarded me an amazing New York Times story on king cakes. We're both surprised at the creativity and options for king cakes in NYC, and yet the lack of them here -- based on proximity of king cake motherland, New Orleans, if nothing else.
See, according to tradition we're all supposed to be eating a slice every day. Underground Dinner chef David Temple (DAT), a native of Louisiana explains.
"During Mardi Gras season most people eat a slice of king cake every day at work," Dat said. "Here's how it breaks down: Someone buys a king cake, and whoever gets the slice with the baby inside has the buy the next cake, therefore every day there is a new cake and the fun is somebody winning or losing, depends on how you look at it, I suppose."
In terms of finding a good one locally, well, that's tricky. DAT has tried Fiesta and Central Market, which were decent, but he concedes the best are from the little mom-and-pop bakery shops in Louisiana.
So, I've been scouring Dallas for a great king cake -- authentic, made-from-scratch with a little voodoo. Several chain grocers have stacks, bedazzled with purple and green sugar, but only a few local bakeries offer the sweet, cinnamon roll-like round cakes. But there are a few:
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The Village Baking Co. (photo above) has traditional French kings cake, Galette des Rois, made with a puff pastry and an almond frangipane. The cake has a macaroon "feve" and is adorned with a shiny gold crown. Whoever gets the feve, wears the crown. They cost $22 each.
Bread Winners is making from-scratch king cakes every morning. They have two kinds, a praline and a sweet berries and cream. Both are made with sweet bread then rolled out with the filling layered to give it a cinnamon roll-like consistency. Bread Winners has some available at their restaurant every day, but if you want to make sure to get one, call ahead (24-hours notice, if you call 214-754-0099. The cakes are $25.99 each.
Central Market stores have both the king cake and gallete de rois, and CM also recommends picking up Abita Mardi Gras Bock -- "pale, pilsner, and caramel malts, which give it a rich malt flavor and full body."
If you're looking for something more authentic, a lot of places in Louisiana will be happy to ship them. Like Haydel's, Gambino's and Randazzo's. All of which get great reviews and have loyal followings, if you don't mind paying more for shipping than for the cake.