With Mardi Gras rapidly approaching, we posed the question of where we could get the best king cake in the Baton Rouge area and the answer was overwhelmingly “Ambrosia Bakery”.
The Ambrosia Bakery sells around 20,000 king cakes during the Mardi Gras season which officially starts 12 days after Christmas on January 6, and continues until Ash Wednesday. Presentation of the King Cake is part of the rich Christian celebration, all in homage to the three kings that bore gifts for the baby Jesus.
Our modern versions of this cake, an extra-large rich breakfast-type pastry is decorated with the purple, gold, and green toppings which are indicative of the Mardi Gras colors. Hidden inside each cake is a tiny, naked plastic or porcelain baby to symbolize the baby Jesus. In the early days, a Fava bean or coin, not a baby, was secreted into the cake.
Tradition tells us that the “bean finder,” the person who gets the piece of cake with the baby inside (and doesn’t break a tooth or swallow it in the process!), receives a year of good luck and is treated as royalty for that day—and must supply the next day’s king cake.
The king cake started out as just plain old dough and sugar. Cinnamon was added. Then in ’81 or ’82 bakeries started experimenting with the fillings, cream cheese, Bavarian cream. Then the icing and the sugar. It just kind of evolved.
Some are still just a cake and some have filling like Strawberry, Bavarian Cream, Chocolate, Apple Cinnamon Pecan, Strawberry Cream Cheese, King Creole Praline, Almond Bavarian, Raspberry Gooey Butter, Pecan Praline, Pineapple Praline, Raspberry Cream Cheese, Strawberry Bavarian, Black Forest, Cherry Bomb, Praline Cream Cheese, Oreo Cream Cheese, Kentucky Bourbon, and more. There are as many different flavors of the tasty pastry as there are throws at a parade.
Ambrosia offers three different sizes: the 48-oz. double-braided large, 12-oz. regular, and a 8-oz. mini. Ambrosia ships the king cakes across the country, from coast-to-coast.
A dough divider divides the dough, which is then stretched, filled, rolled, and braided by hand. Ambrosia’s king cake is similar to a brioche dough and is fluffier than other bakeries’ versions.
As we entered the Baton Rouge shop located at 8546 Siegen Lane (I-10, Exit 162), we first noticed the display case with decorated cookies, cupcakes, pies, tortes, and an assortment of specialty cakes—enough sugary goodness to make us feel like a kid window-shopping at the local toy store before Christmas.
While the bakery offers a selections of pastries, cakes, candies, and chocolates, as well as a selection of deli items, Ambrosia is known for its cakes. About 80 percent of the bakery’s sales come from cakes, which includes a significant number of specialty cakes. Its Fresh Strawberry Cake is the top seller. The cake was initially a summer item until a customer requested it out of season despite the high price of strawberries at the time. They did it, and now offer it year-round.
Some of the best selling specialty cakes include Italian Cream and the Scarlet O’Hara.
The Italian Cream is a traditional Italian cream cake with coconut and pecans, cream cheese filling and cream cheese, and pecan icing.
The Scarlet O’Hara features chocolate Devil’s food cake with turtle, chocolate buttercream, and raspberry filling covered with chocolate icing and fudge ganache and garnished with three chocolate buttercream roses. It’s called it Scarlet because after you eat it, you don’t give a damn, although, it should have named it Rhett.
On the deli side, the bakery has garnered a reputation for its burgers, wraps, and sandwiches. Their pulled pork sandwich is covered with Jay D’s Louisiana Barbecue sauce and comes on an Ambrosia bun—puffy and soft on the outside and just a little, buttery crispness on the inside.
After 15 years, the Ambrosia Bakery has lived up to its name “food of the gods.” Now in its third location, The Ambrosia Bakery provides a large indoor and outdoor dining area with plenty of room to enjoy the fresh baked sweets.
You can also choose from a stunning array of chocolates on display in the chocolate case or enjoy traditional Italian ice cream. We will return for more creatively designed and delicious king cakes and other mouth-watering desserts.
Mardi Gras 2017 falls on Tuesday, February 28. Enjoy the party!
It’s a great party, and anyone who doesn’t enjoy Mardi Gras is not of this world.