Winter is a special time for pastries. Mardi Gras season, along with the colder weather, brings with it a tradition of indulgence.
King cakes are inextricably tied to Mardi Gras. One of the ways in which people celebrate the official start to Carnival season (also known as the Pre-Lenten period) is with king cakes, desserts that typically come in the form of a sweet brioche dough in the shape of a hollow circle topped with glaze sprinkled with colored sugar.
King Cake Hub, the brainchild of Will Samuels, is a retailer that compiles all the best king cake options in New Orleans into one easy-to-use shopping experience. Customers can order king cakes from a variety of bakeries through the website and then pick up those cakes at a single location.
Beginning January 6, King Cake Hub compiles all of the best king cake options in New Orleans into one easy-to-use shopping experience. Customers are able to order king cakes from a variety of bakeries through the website and then pick up those cakes at a single location.
This will be King Cake Hub’s fourth year selling a wide assortment king cakes, including several new offerings from its partner bakeries. Brennan’s is back this year with their Traditional and Pink Parade king cakes as well as a yet to be revealed “Special Release” filled king cake which all Coterie members will receive on January 6. In addition to Brennan’s, NOCCA’s students are back offering their popular Goat Cheese Apple and new this year will be a Gluten and Dairy Free cake. Other returning partners are Caludas’s, Cannata’s, Caywood and Randazzo’s Bakery, Joe Gambino’s Bakery, Hi-Do Bakery, Bywater Bakery, Breads on Oak, Gracious, Bittersweet, Sugar Love and Big Boys Gooey Cakes.
Willa Jean is one of the most renowned bakeries in New Orleans, as well as the rest of the country. Its pastry chef and owner, Kelly Fields, took home the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2019. The bakery’s Caramel Crunch King Cake has become quite popular with customers around Mardi Gras. It’s made with a traditional cinnamon sugar filling and topped with a crunchy caramel glaze and cream cheese frosting.
Another beloved pastry this time of year is the paczki. Fat Tuesday is also known as Paczki Day, and it is one of the biggest days of the year for many Midwestern bakeries. Many Polish immigrants settled in the Midwest and brought with them paczki, donut-like treats typically filled with custard or jelly. Over time, these pastries have earned a reputation as an important part of the Lenten season.
Bakeries prepare for the rush of customers who will grab these special treats during the final hours before Ash Wednesday.
Creative Cakes in Tinley Park, Illinois, has become a top distributor of paczki. The bakery’s “Extreme Paczki” includes creative twists like Maple Bacon Mayhem, which is filled with maple custard, iced with maple glaze, and topped with crumbled bacon. One of the most beloved flavors is the Atomic Paczki, which is filled with fresh bananas in custard, fresh strawberries in glaze, and whipped cream. It is then topped with chocolate icing.
“They’re a little more work than a regular paczki, but you get a lot out of it,” says Beth Fahey, co-owner of Creative Cakes.
Another unique paczki location in the Chicago area is Delightful Pastries. This bakery has made its mark with unique flavors. Delightful Pastries’ Drunken Pastries feature boozy fillings, such as a Jameson Irish Whiskey-spiked chocolate custard and a lemon moonshine version.
Detroit and its suburbs are one of the most popular paczki areas in the country.
In Hamtramck, Michigan, you’ll find New Palace Bakery. This European bakery is located in an area known to be a vibrant center of Polish American life and culture. New Palace represents that well with its paczki selections. It has satisfied customers with its fusion of flavors, such as Peanut Butter & Jelly.