King Cake means spring is near. To me, the purple, green and gold frosting, the beads, medallions and plastic baby are as welcome as the first daffodils and hyacinths.
People tend to buy King Cakes to celebrate Fat Tuesday, the last day to overindulge before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. But, said Karen Brown, owner of Brown Baguette in Southaven: "The season for King Cake starts with Epiphany all the way to Mardi Gras."
So I could have started eating King Cakes a few weeks ago.
Brown makes the best King Cake I've ever eaten. There are several ways to make King Cakes, but Brown uses real cream cheese, and sweet Danish dough. "I'm a snob," she said.
The cream glaze is made of half-and-half and powdered sugar.
Instead of making a round cake with a hole in it, Karen makes three ropes of dough with cream cheese layers, which signify the Blessed Trinity. "It's braided together," she said. "That's why ours is snobby."
A lot of symbolism is included in a King Cake. The green represents faith, gold stands for power, and purple for justice. The baby stands for the Christ child.
My desktop is dotted with plastic babies from past King Cakes. I act like a baby if I don't get the piece of cake with the baby in it. Maybe it's a competitive thing.
Brown puts the baby on top of the cake in plain view. "I want the customer to know where the baby is. I don't want them to have an accident. It could be a choking hazard."
Brown has a liberal arts degree from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. She also has a master's of education degree from Christian Brothers University.
She thought about going to medical school, but changed her mind after doing all the cooking on a camping trip to Horn Island. She wanted to make "good food" instead of the usual fare, so she did "filet mignon and candlelight dinners" and still came in under budget.
Brown worked for about four years at The Peabody and was general manager and pastry chef at La Baguette for 18 years before opening Brown Baguette in 2006.
If you're planning to order to a King Cake from Brown Baguette, give Brown at least 24 hours' notice.
Brown Baguette is at 7090 Malco Blvd., Suite 105, in Southaven; 662-349-7434