- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

COLUMBIA, La. (AP) - Freestyle Cakes in downtown Columbia is offering two Carnival season treats that are surprising, even in Louisiana - king cake a la mode and a boudin king cake.

“You can fry anything,” Renne Free said.

She said they make the fried king cake by cutting traditional king cake into bite-sized pieces, rolling it in funnel cake batter, deep frying it and topping it with chocolate sauce, powdered sugar and a scoop of ice cream.

The fried king cake, she said is popular, but the store’s big sellers are the ever-popular cream cheese and the new boudin option.

The boudin cake, she said, was inspired by a hunting trip last year. Her husband Tim was going hunting with Jeff Landry, owner of West Monroe winery Landry Vineyards. She said she put a pecan praline king cake for the hunters in Tim’s truck the night before, and the cake froze overnight.

“In their duck blind, they have a grill,” she said.” You know they’re really roughing it out there, and they had put the king cake on top and then the boudin was under it, and then all that praline juice was dripping on the boudin.”

“It was, like, the best boudin ever,” Tim said with a grin.

Renne said after that, they played around with the recipe and started selling it this year.

The recipe, Tim said, is dough made from Renne’s recipe wrapped around boudin from Zummo Meat Co. After it bakes for a while, they pull it from the over and drizzle it with either Steen’s cane syrup, which is made in Abbeville, or Norris’ Best Syrup, which is made in West Monroe. They then sprinkle the top with cracklins made at Gene Cox Grocery in West Monroe, embedding the crunchy treat in the syrup before continuing to bake the cake.

“We try to go as local as we can,” Tim said.

Renne said coming up with the king cake dough was a lot of trial and error because she didn’t want to make a dry product.

“Y’all would not believe the king cakes I threw away,” she said.

She finally came upon the right mix for a moist cake.

Haley Free, Renne’s daughter and the shop’s cake artist, said they make 12 king cakes a day and have sold about 50 boudin cakes since they started seasonal sales last Tuesday.

Tim said the shop mails cakes around the country, and they deliver to Monroe on Wednesday evenings and to Pineville on Fridays.

Most of the time, Renne said, the shop is a two-person operation with just her and Haley, but at night during king cake season, it’s all hands on deck. Tim, Renne, Haley and Tyler, the Frees’ son, pull tables together and make an assembly line, they said.

Renne said they’re having a hard time keeping cakes in the store, and they sell fast. She advised ordering cakes at least a day in advance.

She said because the Mardi Gras season is short this year, they plan to extend king cake sales to Valentine’s Day with pink and red sugar after Fat Tuesday. The shop also can fill cakes with blueberry, cherry, apple, lemon and Bavarian cream.

The Frees opened their bakery at 116 Main St., Columbia, in October 2014 and the business is entirely family operated.

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Information from: The News-Star, https://www.thenewsstar.com

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