February 01, 2011

King Cake

In the interest of research, I had my first ever taste of King Cake the other day. It's not something I remember seeing in many places in my old life, but where I live now . . . well, King Cakes seem to be everywhere now that it's Carnival Season.

My daughter and I were strolling through a store the other day when we came across a huge display of King Cakes. Okay, we were not in a bakery, and I'm sure there are King Cakes out there that would have given me a smoother bite for my first try, but Hey! We were there. And so was the cake. And as an author writing about a baker who is inundated by order for King Cake, I felt duty bound to try one.

So we took our cake home and commenced the taste test. I have to say that, having read so many recipes and blog posts and discussions about King Cake on online forums, the texture was pretty much what I expected. Kind of flaky, kind of coffee cake-y, not what I could call traditional cake. But I'm sure you all knew that.

The taste was another thing entirely. I expected cinnamon. After all, it's a key ingredient in the King Cake. The cake we bought was, I believe, made using a traditional recipe, which means no filling. But I wasn't prepared for a hint of anise--at least that's what it tasted like to me. In all my research, I don't think I've come across a recipe that calls for anise, so I'm guessing there wasn't actually anise in the cake we bought. But something gave it a unique flavor unlike anything I've ever tasted before.

Maybe it was nutmeg.

Obviously, my research on this subject isn't finished yet.

So, you King Cake enthusiasts, give me your opinions. Where do you find the best King Cake in New Orleans, and what makes it so special?

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