Don't want to spend all day kneading, rolling, and punching dough? We don't blame you. Your Mardi Gras celebration can be easier than ever this year thanks to traditional (and insanely delicious) king cakes that can be purchased online and shipped directly to you in a matter of days. Now that's simple.
Mardi Gras is just over a month away—the official date is Tuesday, February 28—and whether you plan to really celebrate Fat Tuesday for the first time or you regularly observe Mardi Gras, a traditional king cake is just the cinnamon and sugar-swirled indulgence you need to celebrate the right way. A traditional king cake consists of a yeasted cinnamon-sugar dough that's braided and formed into a ring, baked, then topped with icing and gold, green, and purple sanding sugar. The cake, which stems from Catholic tradition, also contains a small plastic figurine, usually a baby, that's been hidden somewhere in the cake (most bakeries simply place the baby somewhere in the cake's box and let you insert it yourself to avoid any choking liabilities). Tradition states that whoever finds the baby in their piece of the king cake is responsibile for providing the cake (or hosting the Mardi Gras celebration, depending on what version of the tradition you follow) the following year.
If you've never tried king cake, this is your year—seriously, do it. King cakes, made the traditional way, require a bit of time, effort, and baking skill. If you're confident in your dough-making abilities, feel free to give it a shot with this recipe for Traditional King Cake, which received our highest test kitchen rating, or these individually-portioned Mini King Cupcakes. But if you want to experience the real deal (with next-to-no effort on your end), you can order from one of these established bakeries and have your cake shipped straight to your door in time for Mardi Gras. The resources below are some of the most established New Orleans' bakeries and/or specialty Cajun/Creole food delivery sites, so keep in mind that they are going to be busy this time of year, and you should always call in advance before placing a last-minute order—especially a bulk order—to make sure they're fully able to accommodate your needs.
Randazzo's Camellia City Bakery, 1-800-684-CAKE
All of the prices on Randazzo's online ordering include the cost of shipping via UPS overnight delivery (unless you choose an extra fee for Saturday delivery) to ensure you receive the freshest cake as quickly as possible.
KingKingCakes.com, (866) 546-4225
The shipping costs are built into King King Cakes' online order form, so there is no additional cost (other than a $1 packing fee) to place your specialty order. Just put in your billing and shipping information, and the website indicates they will do their best to accommodate your specified delivery date on your order. Keep in mind, they're headquartered in Louisiana, so allow a reasonable amount of time for shipment based on what state you live in.
Gambino's Bakery, 1-800-426-2466
With the Gambino's online order form, you can choose from a variety of shipping options through FedEx, including 2-day and overnight, which can be a real lifesaver if you decided to wait until the last minute. While convenient, these options come at a hefty additional cost, so I'd recommend placing your order in plenty of time to receive your delivery via standard shipping.
All orders placed before noon Monday-Wednesday will ship the following day UPS Next-Day Air. Orders placed on Thursday through 12PM on Monday will ship on Tuesday. The bakery is closed on Monday.
Paul's Pastry Shop, (601) 798-7457
Next-Day UPS shipping is included in the price of your order, but you can also request a distinct delivery date using the shop's online form.
Poupart Bakery, (337) 232-7921
Simply enter your mailing address to get a quote of shipping costs and tax. When I entered in our office location, the shipping quote was free, but the price may vary according to your location.