I’ve learned one thing about king cake while living in the Gulf Coast: people have strong feelings about this confection. Last year, when I devised the idea of a king cake tasting, everyone chimed in with their own area favorites–and they varied considerably. This year was an even bigger fête than the last, with a spread of fifteen king cakes. For our tasting, Fairhope Roasting Company generously donated a pound of their Holiday Blend coffee, a bold dark roast that blended perfectly with the sweetness of the king cakes. Need to know where to get your Gulf Coast king cakes this Mardi Gras? There’s something for everyone here.
For the King Cake Purists
These king cakes are as simple as it gets–but don’t be fooled. These bakeries know their stuff.
Atlanta Bread Company
A local favorite, Atlanta Bread makes a delicious king cake, with fluffy dough, not-too-sweet cream cheese filling, and a generous sprinkling of sanding sugars atop a smooth, creamy icing. Flavors: plain, cream cheese, pecan and cream cheese, raspberry and cream cheese, apple and cream cheese, apple, and raspberry. Price: $18-27 depending on filling. To order, visit 3680 Dauphin Street, Mobile, call (251)380-0444 or check out their website.
Greer’s Downtown Market
The praline king cake (made by Cartozzo’s Bakery in Kenner, Lousiana) available at Greer’s grocery stores has a sunny yellow interior, doubtlessly from the eggs and butter that lend this cake its richness. A generous filling of brown sugar praline oozes out of the sweet dough, and pecans scattered on top of a praline icing offer up a nutty crunch. Flavors: traditional (cinnamon), cream cheese, praline pecan, praline cream cheese, strawberry, lemon, blueberry, apple, strawberry cream cheese. Price: $9.99. Stop in at Greer’s Downtown Market at 851 Government Street (corner of Broad and Government) to pick up a king cake or for more information call (251) 432-0100 or visit their website for your closest location.
Pollman’s Bake Shops
Pollman’s Bake Shops, one of Mobile’s oldest family-owned bakeries, has been satisfying the area’s sweet teeth since 1918, and their king cakes are no exception. Baked fresh every day, the dough is light and flaky, studded with pecans, and laced with tangy cream cheese. To the classic green, gold, and purple, they add blue and pink for a riotously colorful cake. Included with the cake is a card explaining the baby tradition. They regularly stock cream cheese mini ($2.99), small, large, and extra large king cakes in their store, no order required. For other flavors, call to order. Small and large cakes can be shipped anywhere. Flavors: Plain (cream cheese), or cream cheese strawberry, cream cheese lemon, or cream cheese raspberry. Price: $14-30 depending on size. 4464 Old Shell Road (and various locations) or call (251) 438-1511.
USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital
Although seemingly incongruous, this hospital cafeteria churns out delectable king cakes. It reminded me of the inside of a cinnamon roll (the best part), and the pecan praline cream cheese filling is to die for. Show up at 11am if you want a specific flavor, for they put out twelve a day through Mardi Gras week on a first-come-first-served basis. Flavors: cinnamon, cream cheese, strawberry cream cheese, pecan praline cream cheese. Price: $9.99. Located on the first floor of Children’s and Women’s at 1700 Center Street.
If it’s what inside that counts
You know who you are…if you want everything and the kitchen sink inside your king cake, check out these king cakes with delicious fillings.
Paul’s Pastry Shop
A favorite in Picayune, Mississippi, Paul’s Pastry has been churning out cakes since the 70’s, to the Gulf Coast’s delight. Paul’s advertises itself as the home of the original fruit-and-cream-cheese filled king cakes. Party guests enjoyed the “not-too-sweet” cream cheese filling of this cake immensely, along with its tender, fluffy dough. Flavors: too many to list, including Paul’s “Berry Deluxe Combo” (a quarter each of blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, & blackberry fillings over Cream Cheese), and “Mississippi Mud”, a mixture of chocolate cream and walnuts. Price: Vary, but the cream cheese king cake was $17.50. Visit the shop at 1 Sycamore Road, Suite A, Picayune, MS 39466, call (800) 669-5180, or visit their website.
Whole Foods is famous for their Berry Chantilly cakes, a favorite birthday treat in our family. It’s vanilla cake layers soaked in raspberry syrup, fresh berries, and frosted with whipped, sweetened mascarpone. Drooling yet? When I heard they made a king cake version, it was a must-have, and it was delicious. Drizzled with a vanilla glaze and decorated with the classic colors of green, gold, and purple, this king cake is a bright, unique take on the classic. Flavors: Classic and Berry Chantilly. Price: inquire at 3968 Airport Blvd or call 251-206-7028. Visit the website or Facebook page.
Le Bakery & Cafe
If you find yourself in or around Biloxi, stop by Le Bakery & Cafe, Biloxi’s Vietnamese-French bakery. Famous for their banh mi, (a Vietnamese baguette sandwich, usually pork) this cafe also makes a dynamite king cake. Our “Almond Joy” king cake was delicious, and reminiscent of the candy bar of the same name, with a thick, chocolate frosting, almonds, and shredded coconut. Flavors: endless, inquire. Price: $14.99 for standard large size. Stop by at 280 Oak Street in Biloxi, or call (228) 436-0850 to order.
If doughnuts are your thing…
If deep fried dough gets you jazzed, check out these doughnutty takes on Gulf Coast king cakes.
Sugar Rush Donut Company
Sugar Rush, originally from Biloxi, has some of the best doughnuts on the Gulf Coast. I’m partial to their vanilla cream doughnuts, myself. Their king cakes are deep fried and resemble a giant oval glazed donut, sprinkled with the green, gold, and purple sugars of the season. Flavors: plain (glazed doughnut flavor). Price: Inquire. Stop in at 4701 Airport Blvd in Mobile (call them at 251- 767-2146) or 13420 N. Wintzell Ave in Bayou le Batre (call their location at 251-824-2176). Vist their Facebook page for inquiries.
Warehouse Bakery and Donuts
Warehouse Bakery & Donuts, home of the “Squeelin’ Pig Biscuit,” offers seven flavors of king cake, along with their breakfast biscuits and bowls, doughnuts and pastries. They eschew the usual colored sugars in favor of vibrant, opaque purple, green, and gold glazes, making for a particularly gorgeous cake. We tried two of the pecan cinnamon sugar, and they were both decorated differently yet equally as beautiful. Dense, like a glazed doughnut, the sweet pastry encases the crumbly pecan and cinnamon filling. Flavors: cinnamon sugar, cream cheese, blueberry cream cheese, strawberry cream cheese, raspberry cream cheese, German chocolate, pecan cinnamon sugar. Price: $12-40 depending on size and filling. Stop by at 759 Nichols Ave in Fairhope or call (251) 928-7223 to order.
If the frosting is your jam
If you always pick the corner slice of cake (who, me?) read on to figure out who goes big with the frosting.
Everyone goes gaga over Flour Girl’s cupcakes, and for good reason. They’re always delicious, and their flavor selection is superb. Their king cakes, a sweet, tender cinnamon-roll-like dough, are covered (and I mean covered) in a sweet, creamy, cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with green, gold, and purple sprinkles. Flavors: cream cheese and fruit fillings. Price: varies by size from individual to extra large (medium was $27.50). Visit their shop at 809 Hillcrest Road or call (251) 634-2285 or hit them up on Facebook.
This New Orleans institution has been a Gulf Coast favorite since 1965. Their icing is thick, and fluffy, covering a soft and tender, braided cake. Purple, green and gold sprinkles adorn the top. The cream cheese filling, piped on top after baking, is just sweet enough. Although they’re located in Metairie, their king cakes are sprinkled throughout the Mobile area, available at certain establishments as fundraisers, as well as at Purple Cow gas stations around here. Flavors: cream cheese and traditional. Price: ranging from $19.99 – $28. Delivered year round via their website.
If you’re the creative type
A traditional king cake not your thing? These Gulf Coast king cake bakeries are thinking outside the pastry box with some delicious variations.
Bake My Day
These little bites of classic king cake flavor are perfect if you want just a taste. We tried a dozen of their mini king cakes, a brown sugar and cream cheese filled dough with a generous dollop of cream cheese icing. Baked into regular or mini cupcake pans, these are a welcome and unique addition to the area’s king cake offerings. Plus, everyone gets a baby! Flavors: one flavor. Price: order 2 days in advance with minimum order of 6 Regular ($22) or Dozen Mini ($27.50). Visit their website or Facebook page, stop in to the shop at 156 McGregor Ave N, or call (251) 219-7261.
Although Rouses Markets are famous for their traditional and filled king cakes, we opted to try their king cake doberge, a decadent layer cake with a creamy filling, covered in buttercream, decorated with the traditional colored sugars, and topped with a baby. We were not sorry. The layers of cake are so tender, thanks to the filling, and the sweet frosting is almost gilding the lily. Flavors: one flavor. Price: Comes in two sizes: three-layer ($16.50) and six-layer: (approximately $25). 4360 Old Shell Road or call (251) 380-0020.
If you’re grocery shopping…
Are you a one-stop shopper? These area grocery stores offer king cakes to pick up, no order required.
Publix, Winn Dixie, and Rouses all offer king cakes in their bakery sections. Flavors range from unfilled (cinnamon) to fruit filled and everything in between.