Despite the pandemic, Baton Rouge bakeries say king cake demand remains high

While Louisiana mourns the cancellation of traditional Mardi Gras celebrations, bakeries around Baton Rouge are still working hard to fulfill king cake orders. For many of us, it’s one element of the holiday that we can celebrate safely at home. 

“This is our saying around here: COVID can cancel Mardi Gras, but it can’t cancel king cakes,” says Gambino’s Bakery’s Tammy Wilson.

For some bakeries, though, the pandemic has meant reevaluating the safest and smartest ways to prepare a large amount of cakes and get them to every customer who wants one.

Businesses like Gambino’s and Ambrosia Bakery are offering to ship their cakes to customers. Recipients will open the packages to find a fully baked, undecorated cake, with the icing and colorful sugar toppings wrapped separately. It helps guarantee a fresher cake—and a fun time decorating it at home. 

Although Mardi Gras balls and parties have largely been canceled, bakeries say they are anticipating more orders than ever before. 

Gambino’s, best known for its traditional Mardi Gras king cake and cream cheese-filled king cake, officially started selling the cakes last Monday, ahead of the Twelfth Night on Jan. 5. Wilson says the king cakes have been “rolling out of here.” 

Gourmet Girls kicked off sales last Wednesday, and they “haven’t stopped,” says owner Katia Mangham. 

In addition to traditional king cakes, Gourmet Girls has carved out its own unique niche by selling queen cakes (cinnamon brioche dough filled with Champagne mousse and topped with gold-painted cream-cheese icing and edible flowers) and pink Champagne king cakes (a pink Champagne mousse-filled cake that is iced, painted, sprinkled and glittered with “everything pink”).

Both cakes are still popular this year, despite the pink-themed Spanish Town Mardi Gras ball and parade being canceled.

Because even as the pandemic has halted the in-person gatherings that typically define Carnival, local bakeries are making sure Baton Rouge still gets a taste of Mardi Gras. 

“People are aware of Gambino’s king cakes. So they are going to come back for more,” Wilson says. “No matter what.”