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Posted at 05:24 PM ET, 02/21/2012

King Cakes: What all the fuss is about

So far this year, I’ve sampled at least 10 different king cakes, attended a king cake party and gulped down a large cup of “king cake coffee.” Now, that may seem to border on excessive, but I’d argue that in my native Louisiana, my behavior would be considered completely normal. So what’s all the fuss about?

A Manny Randazzo King Cake, shipped from Louisiana. (Deb Lindsey - FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
Tim Carman set out to demystify the annual king cake craze in this 2011 story, where he accurately noted that: “The cake's appeal becomes clearer the closer you get to the [New Orleans] city limits and, conversely, becomes more comical the farther you travel from the voodoo-sexual-second-line cultural vortex of the Big Easy.”

A King Babka Cake, chef-author Peter Reinhart's simple rendition with almonds. (Deb Lindsey - FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)
I have to agree. But I think there’s a reason so many people outside the radius of South Louisiana have adopted the king cake tradition. Sure, it’s not exactly a culinary gem, but it’s loaded with fun and excess, and what other cake has plastic baby inside?

Check out our complete king cake coverage (plus recipes) in the links below while there are still a few hours of Fat Tuesday left.

Taste test of Mardi Gras king cakes

King makers: Bakers reimagine the famous Mardi Gras cake

RECIPE: Chef Peter Reinhart's King Babka Cake

RECIPE: Shauna James Ahern's Gluten-Free King Cake

RECIPE: "A World of Cake" King Cake

RECIPE: Mark Furstenberg's King’s Cake

By Marie Elizabeth Oliver  |  05:24 PM ET, 02/21/2012

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