My office ordered two king cakes last week under the guise of needing them for a co-worker’s going-away party but actually because I’ve always wanted to try them. The first king cakes were introduced to the southern U.S. by French and Spanish settlers and were originally associated with Christmas but are now traditional in Mardi Gras celebrations. Which makes sense, considering how indulgent they are.
A southern co-worker recommended Paul’s Pastry Shop as the source for an authentic king cake, and the going-away girl choose a lemon over cream cheese and a chocolate Bavarian. I spent the week before they arrived telling everyone we were going to have cake made of baby, because a tiny plastic doll is stuck into the cake post-baking and is said to provide good luck to whoever finds it in their slice.
When we opened up the cake box, we thought it was a lump of unbaked dough, but it turns out that an undecorated king cake is just sort of ugly. Luckily, bags of icing and sprinkles were provided, along with Mardi Gras beads to use as payment for boob-baring. Or, since my office is full of men, manboob-baring.
Jack dons the provided gloves–a little freaky, right?–and prepares to ice the cake.
Ash goes for decorative swirls, but we figure out later that Jeff’s way of just slopping it on in a straight line makes for better coverage and easier hand-spreading.
Nik, it turns out, has no future in cake-decorating.
The finished product!
Dripping with icing and caked in layers of sprinkles, it was a diabetic’s worst nightmare. The cake itself was mostly a thick, sweet bread with the tiniest layer of lemon preserves or chocolate spread and a layer of cream cheese baked into it, and it was good, but it wasn’t the sort of super-moist cake we usually go for in the U.S.
The best part was the way the icing collected in pools around the edges of the pan and began to harden. Some people acted grossed out when I spooned the extra icing onto slices of the cake, and those people are no longer my friends.
Jack, the cake slicer, isn’t so pleased with the Valentine’s Day decorations that arrived with one of the cakes.
It was clear to Jack in slicing the first cake which piece the baby was in, so of course he took that piece for himself.
After licking the baby clean, Jack threw his away, but
Steve, who found the baby in the second cake, proved to be a doting caregiver.
Happy Fat Tuesday!