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OK, I have now tried enough to have an opinion, but am curious what others think

I tried McKenzie's, and don’t think much of the variety being sold by Tastee. I should note that i am partial to cream cheese, or strawberry cream cheese filled, so my tase test is not based on the pure, traditional variety.

I have thus far tried Antoine's on Freret, Randazzao's on Hullen, Maurice's, and Chez Pierre in Kenner on Vets. Of these, Antoine's was clearly the best (Randazzo's, while good texture and probably the best cream cheese, was just overwhelmed with the gloppy icing) I have read about a different Randazzo's in Slidell, but have not yet ventured up that way.

Does anyone have any recommendations/suggestions/criticisms?

In America, there is New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans; everywhere else is Cleveland.

Mark Twain

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The best one I think I ever had was at Gambino's. They are a chain now, but still darn good stuff. The consistency can be a little iffy. Some are different than other, but when they are done right, you cannot bea them.

I've had good ones from Haydel's in Metiarie.

If you're willing to venture out, or if you find yourself in Lafayette, I reccommend Poupart's and Meche's. Anjo's would be a great choice as well, but their recipe isn't quite as traditional.

Good luck. I have to make my own if I want one in Birmingham...

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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paz5559, welcome to you! Can you request that they cut the goop, or half the goop? If you like it, maybe it's worth customizing. Mayhaw Man will be able to guide you---but watchout---he'll try to sneak okra in there somewhere. :smile:

Oops---self-edit to read glop.

Edited by Mabelline (log)
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I should say before I give my preference that I am not a big fan of the new trend of filling King Cakes with goo. I like the traditional ones with brioche dough laden with cinnamon and butter. And while I love sugar, I think that many of the makers use way too much on top of the cake.

That being said I really like Gambino's King Cakes the best. I also find that Haydel's Bakery does a nice job as well. I have recently used them to ship several cakes to lucky recipients who live in a land with no King Cakes (sad, dark places to the North of New Orelans) and they gave the whole experience good reviews. The cakes come along with a Arthur Hardy Mardi Gras Guide and other carnival geegaws. This years cake from Haydel's is accompanied by a porcelain king cake baby in the guise of Pete Fountain and a plastic baby inside of the cake (many places stopped putting the baby in the cake out of insurance fears).

I was at a Carnival Event last night and the cake at the party came from Paul's Bakery in Picayune, MS.. This place makes the majority of its income for the entire year shipping Kind Cakes from a little bakery in the woods in rural Western Mississippi. It was a very good cake (it had some kind of pecan creme filling and thankfully it was not too sweet), although it had a giant pile of the traditional purple, green, and gold grnulated sugar topping.

The Mandeville Bakeshop, on the Northshore, also has a pretty good king cake (thier regular baked goods are really good and they have AWESOME fried pies).

Welcome to egullet and I hope that you become a regular poster. There are many here that need accurate info on our strange and humid land and I can use all of the help I can get. Many here take everything I say with a grain of salt all because of some bullheaded and misguided hatred of Okra. You would think that broader minds would prevail, but they rarely seem to when it comes to this misunderstood pod.

Edited to say that between McKenzie's and KB, I am not sure which I miss more. Those party shells from McKenzie's were the handiest item on the planet when making canapes for parties. No one else seems to do them quite the right way and certainly not for the bargain price that they used to produce them for.

I miss the fine K&B Brand line of Fine Spirits. Nothing livened up a party more than whipping out the 1/2 gallon plastic containers of K&B Scotch, Bourbon, and Vodka. Now that was some fine drinking. :wink:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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This is an area where Brooks and I disagree. I am not a big fan of the brioche-based King Cake, preferring instead the traditional French gallette. This is a rarity in the Crescent City, but an excellent example can be found at La Boulangerie on St. Charles -- near that lovely square with the statue of Benjamin Franklin. La Boulangerie's Gallette is beautifully brown, crispy crunch puff pastry filled with a delicious frangipane cream.

While you are there, try the iced cafe au lait. It was like drinking velvet. It was so perfect, even my coffee-hating six-year-old thought it was delicious. (And, to my considerable delight, identified the chocolate and butter notes correctly.)

I'm missing New Orleans a lot right now.

Aidan

"Ess! Ess! It's a mitzvah!"

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This is an area where Brooks and I disagree. I am not a big fan of the brioche-based King Cake, preferring instead the traditional French gallette. This is a rarity in the Crescent City, but an excellent example can be found at La Boulangerie on St. Charles -- near that lovely square with the statue of Benjamin Franklin. La Boulangerie's Gallette is beautifully brown, crispy crunch puff pastry filled with a delicious frangipane cream.

And the beauty of this time of year is that you can have whatever style makes you happy.

In the words of a native son of the Crescent City, "It's a wonderful world."

Happy Carnival to Everyone.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Im with mayhaw man, dont give me any of that crap with a filling. Me venturing out is a doughnut king cake from tastee. Granted this is all from memory since I havnt lived in south louisiana for 10 years. But seriously, look at the changes since then, has there been that many changes before now???? I doubt it. So why change? If the MTV and GIRLS GONE WILD crowd dont like it, well I guess we have to make something a little more Little Debbie like. Or just find a way to fry it.

Gorganzola, Provolone, Don't even get me started on this microphone.---MCA Beastie Boys

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Classic problem with asking anyone from here what the best example of a particular part of the local cuisine is: you get half the people who want to answer the question, and half who want to tell you about the "good old days", and try and tell you which one of today’s variety taste like it SHOULD. Well, from what I understand, in the good old days, king cakes were inedible!

So forgive me if I like them to taste good! My question remains, who makes the best king cakes in the city (ie the best TASTING, which I assumed was understood). NOT who the king cake most like the ones you remember, through your rose colored glasses, as a reminiscenceof things past

In America, there is New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans; everywhere else is Cleveland.

Mark Twain

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Classic problem with asking anyone from here what the best example of a particular part of the local cuisine is: you get half the people who want to answer the question, and half who want to tell you about the "good old days", and try and tell you which one of today’s variety taste like it SHOULD. Well, from what I understand, in the good old days, king cakes were inedible!

So forgive me if I like them to taste good! My question remains, who makes the best king cakes in the city (ie the best TASTING, which I assumed was understood). NOT who the king cake most like the ones you remember, through your rose colored glasses, as a reminiscenceof things past

I apologize for giving the clearly stated opinion above. Perhaps you missed my point.

I like (not always in this order):

1) Gambino's

2) Haydel's

3) Mandeville Bakeshop

4) Paul's

To me these are the best tasting King Cakes in the New Orleans area. I am at work eating some from the Mandeville Bake Shop right now. It is a pecan creme filled version and pretty good, but a little gooey for my personal taste. Of course "taste" is a matter of "taste" and my preferences may be different than yours. And of course, there is the matter of my rose colored glasses :wink:

Does anyone have any recommendations/suggestions/criticisms?

You asked for the above three things and it looks to me like you got a fairly wide variety of answers from interested participants. If you were not pleased with others opinions that is certainly a personal choice, but as with virtually every topic covered here there are going to be broadly varying opinions and generally the answers are going to be deeper than a yes or a no. I think that in the few posts above you recieved : recomendations, suggestions, criticisms.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Brooks, you need to go a little lighter on the caffine - if you notice, the post immediately prior to mine was the one who insisted that the MTV "Girls Gone Wild" crowd had corrupted the Louisiana of his youth. I appreciate your suggestions, and the other members of the board. I posted the same question on Chowhound and Tom Fitzmorris, and got a good sampling of places to add to my list.

Oh, and just for future reference, any opinion that requires SEVEN paragraphs could not possibly be "clearly stated" :raz:

In America, there is New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans; everywhere else is Cleveland.

Mark Twain

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Oh, and just for future reference, any opinion that requires SEVEN paragraphs could not possibly be "clearly stated" :raz:

My answer was edited down from 10 to seven for clarity. :hmmm: I could pm you the extended play version if you wish (including bonus tracks).

Community Dark Roast steamed through a cheesy Krups steam blower into hot milk is how I work a full time job and still crank out all of the other stuff I keep in the air on a busy week. It's not expresso through a $5000 dollar machine, but it gets the job done. :wink::laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Ugggheeemmm.

Alright kids, remember it's Carnival Time and everybody is supposed to be having fun throwing babies out the window and letting their houses burn down, etc.

I have an idea for all of you who are becoming a bit too touchy. Go to a Parade. One of the best parades in all of Carnival (Muses-all women krewe- so handsome men like me clean up on throws :wink: ) is tommorrow night and I think it would be a good idea if all of you got away from your computers and went to a parade. I will be watching it from the neutral ground on the riverside of Napoleon Ave. at Prytania (for you out of towners-all directions in New Orleans are Lakeside/Riverside-Uptown/ Downtown and this somehow makes sense to everyone, even though it is almost never geographically accurate :laugh: ). I will be wearing the same handsome headgear that I have on in my avatar photo and so will a number of my friends and the entire Mayhaw Family. As an added bonus, it is right across from St. Stephens and you can walk up to the window in the front of the rectory and buy a beer from a smiling Nun who will give you a hard time if you are just getting one ("Don't you want one for your friends? C'mon-it's Carnival!"). I love those Nuns and there is something secretly thrilling being served beer by religious authority figures. :wacko::laugh:

I will also be more or less on the same block of Napoleon on Sunday evening for Bacchus and on Monday night. Drop by. The more the merrier. Tuesday will be marching in St. Anns in the Faubourg/Quarter until noon or so then on the bike and uptown to find some indians. Tuesday night will be sleep. Life begins again on Wednesday for about 7 weeks and then comes the Big Daddy of them all-Jazz Fest!

Now. Play nice and go out and enjoy a parade.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Mayhaw Man, that agenda of yours sounds like so much fun, I wish I could move up my trip to NO so I could join you in the parade fun! (We'll be there for a short trip in mid April)

Have a wonderful time, and eat lots of King Cake, drink lots of beer, and catch lots of throws for me!

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I have to disagree with Gambino's as being the best. Although I have had some amazingly good ones from there, I have also had some woefully mediocre ones from there as well.

-Ophelie

Like I said, the consistency is hit or miss, now that they have expanded so. It's harder to keep the rein on the ingredients. Cest la vie. If you go to the original one or two locations, you should be OK.

That being said (to paraphrase a saying about something else), king cakes are like sex. Even the bad ones are pretty good...

Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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THe title of this article should have been Really Bad New Trend in King Cakes Invades City for Carnival, but it was not titled this way. Fortunately there are some recipes at the end for those of you that want to figure this phenomenon out for yourselves.

And for you Emeril bashers out there-Last nights Muses parade (Muse Reads the Tabloids) featured a float with Emeril at the head of the float with a giant, gaping, bloody hole in his chest and a very shocked look on his face. The title of the float was "Bam!". THe headline on the fake "Weekly World Muse" was "Emeril accidentally ingests explosive sausage and exploded all over his TV studio audience". It was very funny and really well done. This was a wonderful parade and after only four years it has become one of the "must sees" for parade traditionalists in the small parade category.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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  • 1 year later...

This is for my thesis...

I'm trying to learn a thing or two about the evolution of king cakes in New Orleans with only moderate success. There are many sites out there that talk about the history of the king cake, but they basically concentrate on its European history & development in France. So far here's what I've gathered about the development of the dish in New Orleans.

1. It probably migrated over from France in the late 1800s.

2. The Twelfth Night Revelers were the ones who really popularized the dish, making it the "in thing" for high society balls.

3. McKenzie's further popularized the dish. They were also allegedly the first bakery to begin the tradition of plastic babies (or at least to make this the standard inclusion, replacing beans & pecans). Some people claim that they were the ones to first include the green, gold, and purple sprinkles on the cake (others claim this tradition is older, some saying it dates back to shortly after Rex made those official Mardi Gras colors in 1872).

4. Today, the most famous bakeries for king cakes are Haydel's, Gambino's, and Randazzo (am I forgetting any truly important ones?).

This is piddly. Anyone have any important insights? How did the traditional cinnamon dough come about? Who was the first to start offering filled cakes? First cream cheese filling? Anyone I didn't mention play an important role in the development or popularization of current traditions?

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I think (personal theory, no real way to back it up) that the the fruit/custard fillings and the colored sugar on top eveolved in New Orleans as the carnival season became more "touristy". It evolved from a semi sweet brioche type of concoction to match New Orleans "over the top" attitude. As the years have gone by, and the tourist trade became more important in the economy, drinks became stronger, food became spicier and sweeter, and revelers got more extreme. I think they are too sweet these days, myself. I'll make my own with about 2/3 of the sugar that most NO bakeries use.

I also think that the tradition of the baby (whoever finds the baby has to host the next party or buy the next cake of wins a door prize) is also attributable to the commercial bakeries. Any excuse to have people buy one more cake...

In other words, the changes can be blamed on marketing. It's driven New Orleans for the last 50 years. There's nothing delicate about them now. It's become a caricature of itself.

Not that they ain't good, mind you. Especially if you get one of the old line ones. Gambino's is probably the best in the city (although that argument alone could generate a vicious thread). They are slightly less sweet and a little more subtle than the glorified danish that will set your teeth on edge sold in most places.

Edited to add: Not sure if this will really help you or not, but I felt I had to add my .02. Maybe it will give you a different avenue to look into.

Edited by FistFullaRoux (log)
Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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You need to talk to the Entringers of McKenzie's (are there any of them left?) You've named the current big three of mailed/mass marketed king cakes, but don't overlook the effects of chain groceries as well. Schwegmann's did a bang-up king cake business, and Winn-Dixie, SavaCenter, etc. hawk tons of them today. The old "Mr. Wedding Cake" bakery on Elysian Fields was a pretty good king cake place, too (it ain't dere no more).

Have you looked at the crazy chocolate/coconut "zulu" king cake? Yet another permutation that ended up in litigation--the Zulu carnival krewe sued whichever bakery was selling them for image/trademark infringement.

I'm not that old (early 30s), and I can remember a time before fillings. As best as I can recall, fillings began to emerge in the mid-80s. Praline-pecan emerged shortly after cream cheese, but all of the other freaky flavors followed soon after. I think of this as the snow-ball-ization or daiquiri-ization of the king cake. It's part of a modern american trend...rather than a single, tasty, traditional item, a zillion different flavors are seen as an improvement...the same fate befell coffee beans and martinis!

Another resource to investigate: Mam Papaul's foods, a prepared foods company located in St. Charles Parish, sells a boxed king cake mix. You might also want to check with them regarding king cake.

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This web site on the history of King Cakes has some interesting information, but I don't think it answers your question about when fillings and the sprinkles started.

edited to add that I just referenced Chef John Folse' book The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine and he talks about king cakes in the introduction to desserts and his first recipe is a king cake it looks like without filling. And it is more than just a danish. But he does have the colored sprinkles.

Edited by joiei (log)

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I'm not that old (early 30s), and I can remember a time before fillings.  As best as I can recall, fillings began to emerge in the mid-80s. 

Agreed, Im 34 and I believe that I have lived most of my life filling free.

Gorganzola, Provolone, Don't even get me started on this microphone.---MCA Beastie Boys

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  • 2 months later...

article from NOLA.com

An increased demand for the Mardi Gras treat and a shortage of labor has led to longer than usual lines and sellouts at many bakeries this year. There aren't enough workers to bake enough cakes. Long Carnival seasons generally add up to strong years for king cake sales because there's more time to buy cakes, but after Hurricane Katrina, when so many people have lost jobs or homes, it was unclear whether 2006 would follow the previous trends. But bakers said king cake sales his year have been surprisingly strong, partly because of the hurricane. Last week, for example, Haydel said the bakery had sold about 30,000 cakes since January, topping its previous record of 22,000.The mail order portion of Haydel's business has increased 300 percent to 400 percent over past years, Haydel said.

An excellent article!

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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article from NOLA.com
An increased demand for the Mardi Gras treat and a shortage of labor has led to longer than usual lines and sellouts at many bakeries this year. There aren't enough workers to bake enough cakes. Long Carnival seasons generally add up to strong years for king cake sales because there's more time to buy cakes, but after Hurricane Katrina, when so many people have lost jobs or homes, it was unclear whether 2006 would follow the previous trends. But bakers said king cake sales his year have been surprisingly strong, partly because of the hurricane. Last week, for example, Haydel said the bakery had sold about 30,000 cakes since January, topping its previous record of 22,000.The mail order portion of Haydel's business has increased 300 percent to 400 percent over past years, Haydel said.

An excellent article!

Am I the only person that lives in Louisiana that is not a big fan of the King Cake? Maybe it's because I have only had the ones that are made in North LA...

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And today's trivia question is:

Who sells more King Cakes than anyone (4 times as many as Haydel's, mentioned in the piece above)? It's not who you think.

Hint:

You'll need to name both the store and the location.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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