It’s hard to believe that it’s already February. And while some Austinites are busy making dinner reservations for the 14th or buying a bouquet of roses, our mind is focused on elaborate face masks, a celebration in the streets, and of course, king cake.
To make sure Austin residents knew where to get their slice of deliciousness, we set out on a Mardi Gras quest to find the best king cakes in town. That’s right, we went North, South, East, and West, sampling the best options out there. But before we give you a list of our favorites, here’s a little bit of history of the festive dessert.
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According to Mardi Gras New Orleans, the decorative cake is meant to represent the exchanging of gifts and feasting during the Epiphany, or the coming of the wise men that brought gifts to the Christ Child. Celebrations all over the world take place during this time, and to honor the three kings, the custom of baking a special cake was born.
Now, in no specific order, here’s a list of our favorite king cakes that Austin bakeries, restaurants, and cafes have to offer.
Walton’s Fancy & Staple whips up scrumptious desserts daily, and their king cake is no different. The dough is braided in-house and is fluffy and moist. The filling, a homemade cinnamon cream cheese filling, wasn’t too sweet and added a creamy texture. Patrons can get the cake by the slice or order whole cakes, as well.
Known for its renowned bakeshop, Easy Tiger was an obvious addition to our list. The cake is made with the bakeshop’s pain au lait dough and is filled with butter and cinnamon sugar. The flaky cake comes with a tiger figurine in the place of a traditional baby for an added twist. Cakes can be ordered for pick-up now through February 28.
Sugar Mama’s aims to Keep Austin Sweet. And with this year’s king cake recipes, rest assured the shop is doing just that. We didn’t sample the raspberry cream cheese flavor, but the pecan praline was nutty and made for a perfect dessert. Be sure to order yours with 48 hours notice.
Sweetish Hill Bakery & Café offers two styles of king cake: a traditional New Orleans style cake and a Galette Des Rois, or French pastry. The puff pastry is lined with an almond paste filling that creates a dense, rich middle inside a light, flaky exterior. For the best flavor, serve the pastry warm. The traditional recipe also includes the bakery’s almond paste and is decorated with green, purple, and gold colored beads. Talk about festive.
Sawyer & Co. is a New Orleans-inspired diner and a no-brainer for King Cakes. Baked at their sister company, 2dine4, bakers use Chef Happy’s original recipe from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The diner offers three flavors to choose from: original, praline, and cream cheese. Our favorite was the praline, as it added a bit of crunch and added sweetness. Be on the lookout for a cinnamon and sugar cream cheese, too. Rumor has it a fourth flavor is in the works.
Both Stuffed locations make their king cakes in-house and offer traditional cakes or stuffed varieties, including cream cheese, cherry, or Bavarian cream. We sampled the cream cheese and cherry flavors. Each was chock-full with filling, living up to the “stuffed” name. The cherry filling was slightly sweeter, a little tart, and definitely the favorite.
Central Market is offering four flavors at each of their two Austin locations. The N. Lamar location has traditional, strawberry cream, raspberry cream, and cream cheese. The Westgate location has traditional, strawberry cream, cream cheese, and almond. We sampled the traditional flavored cake and decided it paired perfectly alongside coffee or tea, as it has more bread than others and is not too sweet. All cakes, though, are baked in house.
Other Kings In Town
While we can’t say enough about the king cakes we sampled, they represent just a few bakeries, cafes, and restaurants around town serving this delicious delicacy.
Cypress Grill, Curious Confections, Upper Crust Bakery, La Mexicana Bakery, and La Madeleine are also known for their king cakes. And for a fun twist on a classic recipe, Capital City Bakery and Voodoo Donut are known to offer king cake flavored cupcakes and donuts.
Let the festivities—and over eating—begin!
Feature image courtesy Flickr user Jenni Field, Creative Commons licensed