Sikes: ‘Our cake from Well Red sure got us going’ – Opelika Auburn News

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‘Our cake from Well Red sure got us going’

A King Cake is shown.

When 12th Night and Epiphany were just ahead, I went in search of a traditional French-style King’s Cake – Gallette des Rois. To my surprise, I struck out. With all the bakers around, I thought somebody would have one available. Even My Boulangé in Columbus no longer bakes them.

When I asked locals about one, most bakers seemed unaware of this baking classic. My friend Tim at Publix knows exactly what one is, but doesn’t have the ingredients to bake one. They purchase the coffee-cake style offered there.

My choices were to make one, order one in or settle for the New Orleans Mardi Gras style. I made my last one three years ago. At least that’s what I vowed then. Lots of trouble for just one. Now I could drive to Atlanta, Mobile or New Orleans and have choices. As much as we think we have urban options here, not necessarily.

Ordering in had all sorts of choices. Since I had waited so late, this wasn’t so good. That is unless I wanted to pay $65 or more for a small-size cake. Shipping makes it impractical. My wholesale cost was less than $20, but minimums made that not work either

I was referred to a local baker. She offered only the coffee-cake style. When I asked for one the week before Mardi Gras, Katie told me she was sold out of cake orders for the year. Wow. What a delightful place to be.

Then a found a local source who’s happy to take orders. Details later.

A King’s Cake is a tradition. In New Orleans, the French version is available along with an oval-shaped version said to symbolize the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple representing justice, green representing faith and gold representing power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is traditionally hidden inside each King Cake.

The cakes can be found starting in early January and are available up until Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. The symbolic bean or baby baked or simply embedded into the King Cake is important to Mardi Gras celebrations because the person who gets the piece containing the baby may by king for the day, but they must host the next year’s celebration.

These “kicked up” coffee cakes are made from twisted strands of cinnamon dough, covered by poured sugar icing and sprinkled with purple, green and gold colored sugar. Now additional varieties of King Cakes are also available by adding cream cheese or other fillings.

What I found out is that Well Red – Coffee, Books, Wine on Opelika Road in Auburn offers New Orleans style King’s Cakes. They are served by the slice for only $4. It’s easy to share one with coffee and friends.

The cakes are available to take home by order. Half a cake is $20 and a whole beauty is only $40. The one we got last Saturday was huge. It weighed in at 4 ½ pounds. It was just as tasty as it was attractive.

This year Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, Feb. 16. But the celebration has already started for us. Our wreath is up. Even though the Krewe de Tigris parade had been canceled this year, we can have small special events at home. Our cake from Well Red sure got us going. Plus, there was plenty to share with friends and my classes.

Jim Sikes is an Opelika resident; a food, wine and restaurant consultant; and a columnist for the Opelika-Auburn News. Contact him on Facebook at In the Kitchen with Chef Jim.


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