Thanksgiving has been over for more than two months and Christmas has come and gone. But there’s one holiday in the Deep South that, for many, is just as important: Mardi Gras.
“What’s a king cake,” you ask? Usually, king cakes are Danish pastry dough, braided with cinnamon and baked within the shape of a circle. Think of it almost as a giant donut-shaped cinnamon roll. They’re usually iced and often filled with cream cheese or fruit. And oh yeah — there’s usually a plastic baby inside the cake somewhere. Customarily, whomever finds the baby in his or her slice has to buy next year’s cake.
Traditionally, King Cakes are enjoyed during Carnival season, which runs from Jan. 6, or Epiphany, until Mardi Gras, which, in 2019, falls on March 5.
Here are the top places to get your king cake fix along the Gulf Coast, from Pensacola to New Orleans:
A self-described bakery on wheels, Le Dough specializes in hand made donuts and tartes. Every Tuesday and Thursday through February. they’ll be taking orders and making deliveries of their King Cakes. And yes, the baby is included!
One of Pensacola’s hottest new bakeries, Bluejay’s is located in the newly restored One Palafox Place development in the Blount Building on Garden and Palafox streets. Along with taking orders for full King Cakes, they’re serving slices of King Cake at the bakery daily through Fat Tuesday. Their King Cakes come in traditional cinnamon sugar with raisins flavor.
Most people know Oh Snap! for their cupcakes — but they’re one of Pensacola’s top spots for king cakes. The Cervantes Street bakery makes their king cakes in a variety of flavors, including traditional with brown sugar, cream cheese with brown sugar, strawberry, almond, and other fruit and chocolate flavors. “Whatever anyone wants, we can put in,” said owner Lee Newkirk.
New this year are Gluten Free and Vegan options, starting at $6 for a small to $28 for a large king cake. For non-vegans, choose from chocolate, nuts, or cream cheese. They’re available in-store each day until supplies run out, but the shop recommends calling ahead to pre-order.
Located on 12th Avenue in East Hill and operating since 1946, J’s Bakery is celebrating Mardi Gras with a variety of King Cake flavors, to include cinnamon and sugar, prailine, raspberry, apple, cream cheese, and fruit and cream cheese. Please call to reserve your custom order
The new kid on the block, Sucre is perhaps better known for its incredible macarons and to-die-for gelato. But if you’ve been to their Magazine Street storefront, you’ve probably seen their case of couture pastry creations and thought about how they look almost too pretty to eat.
Sucre’s king cakes are no different. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill grocery store king cakes. These are productions — buttery danish pastry dough sweetened with cinnamon and raw sugar before being folded with just the right amount of cream cheese, then iced with an edible glitter that produces a gorgeous luster. One size, one flavor only. Shipping available.
Paul’s Pastry Shop — located in tiny Picayune, Miss., about 45 minutes from New Orleans — bills itself as the first bakery to fill king cakes with cream cheese and fruit. Like the other stores we’ve mentioned so far, Paul’s ships its cakes year-round, so you don’t have to wait for carnival season to get a taste.
Paul’s king cakes are also available at markets and specialty shops throughout Mississippi and as far east as Gulf Shores, Ala.
A photo posted by Sharon Whelton (@sharon_whelton) on
Mobile is where Mardi Gras started on the Gulf Coast — and Pollman’s Bake Shop is the undisputed place to get a king cake in Mobile. The longtime Mobile favorite has been turning out king cakes since the 1950s, selling more than 10,000 cakes each season.
Pollman’s Bake Shop
750 S Broad St and 4464 Old Shell Rd
Mobile, AL 36603/36608
(251) 438-1511/(251) 342-8546
Fairhope’s Warehouse Bakery & Donuts does it a little differently, with donut-style king cakes. Braided dough is fried like a donut, glazed, and sprinkled. The cakes can also be made with a variety of fillings. Customers should call ahead for these, though — they’re not on the regular menu.