Mardis Gras season is upon us! I recently received an awesome work assignment: to find an authentic King Cake in Birmingham to serve at our office Fat Tuesday party. So I packed up, turned off my calorie counter, and hit the road in search of Creole confections!
Based on a heavily-shared USA Today article from a couple of years ago, the search began at the acclaimed Edgar’s Bakery.
I was greeted with a lovely Mardis Gras-themed display upon walking in. They were clearly ready for Fat Tuesday.
There were a number of King Cakes readily prepared. Flavor offerings included traditional, pecan praline, cream cheese, and strawberry. The confections were festively-packaged and included Mardis Gras beads and a baby for tucking into the cake.
Edgar’s offers the traditional King Cakes for $30 and the flavored offerings for $35. There is also a mini version for $15 made in the traditional style. A string of Mardis Gras beads are included, alongside a plastic baby to tuck inside of the cake.
Here’s what USA Today said in their article proclaiming the five best king cakes that put Edgar’s on the map as one of the best king cakes in the country:
Edgar’s Bakery in Birmingham, Ala.
“Founded in 1998 by Terry and Dottie Smith, Edgar’s Bakery is known for their stunning sweets made from natural ingredients. During Mardi Gras season, the store ships king cakes around the country. Here, the made-from-scratch cakes are baked daily and start with a cinnamon roll dough that’s braided and topped with a colorful sugar glaze. There are four different flavors, which include traditional, pecan praline, cream cheese and Edgar’s signature strawberry.”
The manager at Edgar’s was kind enough to offer me a sample. She chose the “Pecan Praline” variety.
Our Next Stop: Homewood Gourmet, located off of 31 in Homewood
I’ve recently heard some whisperings about Homewood Gourmet offering King Cakes, so I stopped by to check out their supply and I was lucky enough to meet the New Orleans native owner/chef, Chris Zapalowski. When asked about what makes a King Cake authentic, Chris said, “I guess it’s like the French bread from New Orleans-it’s in the water!” Chris went on to list the ingredients he uses, although he was carefully not to disclose his proportions.
I was very impressed with the king cakes at Homewood Gourmet. They smelled amazingly fresh. Chris does not braid his version, but rolls it instead, creating a lovely pocket for fillings. An ample supply of colored sugars were topping the confections, representing the justice, faith and power that King Cakes symbolize. Instead of a plastic baby, Homewood Gourmet uses a pecan to tuck neatly inside the cake, bringing luck and good fortune to the unbeknownst soul that bites into it.
King Cakes from Homewood Gourmet are $25 for cinnamon and $30 for cream cheese-filled and must be ordered in advance.
Our Final Stop: Savage’s Bakery & Deli, located in the heart of Homewood
Savages is my go-to source for cookies and other confections. We have an annual tradition of taking the kids to Savage’s after the first day of school to enjoy one of their iconic smiley-face cookies and I frequent the establishment for business purposes (I’m technically in Healthcare PR/Marketing, but my company may as well have put “Cookie Delivery Girl” on my business card).
An employee consulted with the owner before telling me that their King Cake is made from the same dough as their meltaway cookies and described it as flaky, buttery, and similar to a coffee cake.
Savage’s King Cakes are also pre-packaged and ready to go. Two flavor options are available: Cinnamon and Cream Cheese. There are also two size options; the smaller option is $14.99 and the larger is $20.99.
So there you have it: King Cakes in Birmingham that aren’t from a grocery store!