Thursday, January 17, 2013

Coming out of hibernation to discuss vegan King Cakes

Well, I started an MFA program last summer (at the wonderful Goddard College) and subsequently abandoned my blog.  But I'm back today, to talk about a very important topic: Vegan King Cakes!  The king cake, as I first discovered while visiting NOLA in 2002 (back when I still lived up north) is a delicious Carnival season dessert.  It's essentially a giant, ring-shaped cinnamon roll covered in  colored sugar.  With a plastic baby in it.  Yum!
When I went vegan, I was very pleased to find that vegan king cakes could be obtained from Whole Foods.  Since then, I've discovered two other places where one can obtain them: The Peacebaker in Metairie, and Truly Free Bakery in Baton Rouge.  So, who has the best vegan king cake?  Here are my reviews:

The best: Whole Foods
Whole Foods king cakes are really close to the real (non-vegan) thing.  Don't believe me?  Once I brought one to a parade with my friend and a bunch of her friends.  Several of her friends, not knowing it was vegan, tried it and commented on what a good king cake it was.  The cakes are generously sized and will serve many people.  The downside of the Whole Foods cake is that it is pricy (this is Whole Paycheck, after all), and you have to call in advance to order one.  As far as I know, they do not make filled vegan king cakes, so you can only get the plain cinnamon flavor.  Also, the frosting tends to get hard quite quickly.  I like to heat up the leftovers in the microwave to soften it again.

Also good: The Peacebaker
The Peacebaker is a new-ish gluten free bakery in Metairie, and most (but not all) of what they make is also vegan.  Their king cakes are the small round type (as opposed to the large oval kind).  They have pretty frosting in the Mardi Gras colors.  This cake was really yummy, and my husband and I devoured it quite quickly.  We agreed, though, that the texture was not very similar to the traditional king cake.  It was more like a muffin or coffee cake.  I imagine this is because it's gluten free.  Like Whole Foods, they don't make them with fillings at this point, but they told me they hope to next year.

Not so great: Truly Free Bakery
It really pains me to write this, because I LOVE Truly Free.  Anton and I enjoy going there for lunch on days when he has doctor appointments.  They have delicious, healthy things to eat and a great kid's menu.  Also the staff is super-friendly.  So when I discovered that they made king cakes, including several with FILLING, I was psyched.  Sadly...this cake was not so good.  I got a blueberry cream cheese filled cake.  The filling was yummy.  The cake?  Not so much.  It was hard as a rock and really, really dense.  I considered my microwave trick to see if it would soften, but I was afraid that would ruin the cream cheese filling. Everything else I've ever had from Truly Free was awesome, so I don't know what went wrong here :(

If there are any other places in NOLA or BR that make vegan king cakes, I'd love to hear about them!  In the meantime, I will fantasize about a Whole Foods cake, with The Peacebaker's frosting and Truly Free's filling.  That would be the ultimate vegan king cake!

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