I’ve been counting down the days until today: Epiphany! And, more importantly (to me): king cake! Yes, I saw the blasphemous king cake display in the store last week. And my mouth watered. But one of the special things about king cake is that you don’t eat it before Epiphany or after the city’s rule reverts back to the Mayor at midnight at the end of Mardi Gras.
As a New Orleans girl, this is the start of one of my favorite times of year. And, God help me and my waistline, this year, the season is especially long – two months between now and Mardi Gras on March 8. I must pace myself or my pants will suffer.
Last year, I had what can only be described as a stroke of genius. I don’t know why it took me more than three decades to come up with this. Has everyone else been doing this, and just never told me about it?
Every year, I want to eat a multitude of king cakes. I’ve yet to come across one made for a family of five, much less a family of three. (I guess La Boulangerie’s french style one would be the exception.) So I either have to force myself to eat way more than my stomach needs (or even, to be honest, than my mouth wants), or it goes to waste. Or should that be waist?
But last year, I had my stroke of genius: king cake bread pudding! With each king cake, once we’d had our fill, I put the remainder in the freezer, with the plan to combine all the leftovers in the future. My first thought was to make it into bread pudding for Ayyam-i-Ha. But it didn’t quite seem to fit together in my mind. And I’m seeing this year that it’s a good thing it didn’t, since Mardi Gras is so late that Ayyam-i-Ha falls into carnival season. But then I realized that Easter would be a great time to have the bread pudding – not so far that the cake is freezer-burned, but not so close that you’re still full from the king cake. And being married to a Catholic, I’m always trying to make sure I honor his religion, in a way that I feel comfortable.
So, my friends, tuck away your leftover king cake (if you’re lucky enough to have such) and come Easter, combine the bits and pieces with the custard and bake. Since the king cake is so yummy and sweet and spiced, you don’t really have to add anything else.