Monday, June 5, 2023 Jun 5, 2023
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Taste Test Thursdays

Taste Test: King Cakes

Which is the best according to D Magazine staff?
By |

Hey, there. Happy almost Mardi Gras. Going to keep this simple and to the point. Mostly because I ate too much cake and now I have a stomach ache and sticky fingers, which are not fun to type with. It honestly feels like there’s a mosh pit forming in my gut. God, I hope I didn’t accidentally swallow one of those plastic babies.

Anyway. King Cake. This is the thing that D Magazine staffers stuffed their faces with during taste test. The sweets are available during the Mardi Gras season. They’re round, are like a hybrid between a French pastry and a coffee cake, and come decorated with green, yellow, and purple sprinkles and/or icing. I read somewhere that the colors represent a jeweled crown honoring the Wise Men who visited the Christ Child on Epiphany. Let’s roll with it.

So, which King Cake is the kingliest of them all? Start reading and find out. And, as always, if we missed your favorite, hop in that comment section and let us know.

(I’m also accepting medical advice from any professionals out there who know what to do if you accidentally swallow the plastic baby that comes hidden in this dessert.)


The cakes:

A. Tart Bakery
B. Tom Thumb
C. Rush Patisserie
D. Whole Foods (cinnamon)
E. Kroger (Gambino’s Bakery)
F. Whole Foods (berry)

Tasting notes:

Tart Bakery

This one tastes a lot like a cinnamon roll, but it’s, like, crunchy from having sugar all over the place.

A little dry. Sprinkles are too much. I award this two out of five babies.

I think the icing would have been nice without the dump truck amount of decorating sugar on top and inside. Is King Cake supposed to crunch this much?

Would eat.

This is the Willie Roaf of King Cakes. The former Saints Offensive Lineman was 6’5” and 320 pounds, and this cinnamon role with icing and sprinkles on top is rich, large, and in charge.

More coffee cake than king cake. The icing was far too cream-cheesy for my purist taste buds.

This cake has got it going on as far as presentation goes. Symmetrical and clean, the cake itself and the icing are yummy. I dig it despite it being a total sugar bomb.

Tom Thumb

Soft and tender, but I’m not a fan of the flavor. This one is less bread-y than the others.

A bit more moist but the sprinkles are bad. Again, two babies out of five. Twins.

Ew. There wasn’t much flavor in the pastry and the icing tasted like something you’d get on a cookie from a courthouse vending machine.

This is so flaky and fun. Would eat.

This King Cake is the Archie Manning of the bunch. The old school Saints quarterback is consistent and hard working, but not going to stand out too much. The cake’s simple round shape lacks flourishes, and it doesn’t have as much flavor as some of the others.

Very tasty, and the most traditional of the bunch. Second place.

A little dry but much more savory than the first one. Not bad, but unimpressive.

Rush Patisserie

Looks wild but tastes classy. The pastry is flaky and fresh and the frosting tastes good despite its ugly appearance.

I’m an uncultured swine who hates croissants and this thing is like a giant ring of croissants with piles of bad icing. I award it zero babies, which is ironic because it birthed me a child.

This cake looks like a party, but the pastry is a little bread-y and the icing tastes like office supplies.

I thought this might be bad because it was so beautiful (it’s so hard to pull off both!) but I dig it. Would eat!

This cake has Joe Horn written all over it. Horn was a great player, but was more famous for celebrating a touchdown with a hidden flip phone on the field. Adorned with coins and jewelry, the cake stands out with silly string-looking icing topping a airy light bread.

I’m normally a traditionalist, yet despite this being different, I liked it enough to crown it my Kween of Kings (which, incidentally, is the name of my Leah Remini fanfic blog). I missed the crunch of the sprinkles, but the crusty, flaky bread more than made up for their absence. They went lighter on the filling, which helped keep the overall effect from being too sweet. Winner!

This cake looks like it had a party popper exploded onto it. Beads, coins, ribbons, the works. The neon glaze creeps me out but the cake itself is great: light and flakey!

Whole Foods (cinnamon)

This one has a pleasantly artificial taste that reminds me of hostess. Eh.

This one’s supercharged on the cinnamon. I give it three, six-week-old babies.

Sort of edible, but only because it’s not completely offensive to the senses.

This is the breadiest of them all. Like if you threw frosting on a slightly stale Hawaiian roll. Would not eat. (Actually, probably would.)

Drew Brees would be proud of this King Cake. Experts said Brees was too short to make in the NFL, but his consistency, competitiveness, and firepower propelled him to be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. The cinnamon middle, rich bread, and crunchy sprinkles propel this cake to the top.

The hearty sprinkles gave a nice crunch. Otherwise, not much to write home about.

A bit dry but the cinnamon on top is good. I like the stiff icing. B+

Kroger (shipped in from Gambino’s Bakery)

I wish I wouldn’t have taken this bite.

The frosting tastes like melted plastic. Negative two toddlers.

I am 99 percent certain there is Windex in this.

This one tastes like if the Hawaiian roll was really fresh. Would eat.

Like former Saints running back Reggie Bush, this cake looks great on paper. It has an appealing bake, solid bread consistency, but tries a bit too hard for its own good. The mass of cake icing slathered on top makes it look better than it tastes.

This is a loaf of bread disguised as a king cake. Way too dense. The icing is thick and tastes like it’s out of a tub.

The frosting on this one smells like a hairdresser. Cake is spongy and bland. No thanks.

Whole Foods (berry)

Tastes the same as D. (Editor’s note: I know for a fact that this taste tester did not get any of the filling, so her answer is disqualified.)

Oh hell yeah. Good texture, but it’s the jelly that pushes it over the top. Four big fat beautiful babies.

This is the only one that I might willingly take a second bite of. Still, I think King Cake is made to sit on a table and look festive. I apologize to all the plastic babies out there.

It’s fine but where’s the cinnamon? Would begrudgingly eat.

This cake is former Saints kicker Morten Andersen, who lived in Denmark until an exchange student experience landed him a kicking scholarship that he turned into a a 25-year NFL career. This cake is an outsider, with fruit flavor in the middle, but like the left-footed kicker, it doesn’t quite fit in.

Too much like a Danish. And who thought it was a good idea to put fruit filling in a king cake? Like many decisions made during Mardi Gras, that one falls in the regrettable category.

The large sugar crystals on top are a nice contrast to the doughy soft inside. I can’t decide if I love or hate the jelly filling, but it definitely makes it stand out.

Tally up:

Tart Bakery 1
Tom Thumb 0
Rush Patisserie 3
Whole Foods (cinnamon) 1
Kroger (Gambino’s Bakery) 0
Whole Foods (berry) 2

The winner is:Rush Patisserie takes the…wait for it…King Cake! Okay, it’s time to go home. Tell your dog I say hi and have a wonderful weekend.

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