Showcasing Louisiana: King Cakes

Updated: Feb. 12, 2021 at 5:01 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The whirr of mixers pour from the doors of Chef Jeanne Mancuso’s class at Louisiana Culinary Institute.

“Go ahead and put one egg in at a time.” Mancuso shouted over the noise. “King cake is a very, very rich dough.”

King Cakes
King Cakes(WAFB)

Mancuso bounds from table to table as about a dozen want-to-be pastry chefs try their hand at homemade king cakes. “I think some people are excited to have something to do that reminds them of Mardi Gras season.” Mancuso said.

King cakes may be the only thing that is normal this Mardi Gras.

“It’s a fun way to get your stress out, kneading dough.” Tiara Smith said as she pounded a dough ball into a sheet.

King Cakes
King Cakes(WAFB)

With balls and parades cancelled, she can’t think of a better way to get her pre-Lenten calories than by making her own king cake.

On the menu tonight, two sweet treats: a strawberry-cream cheese cake, and a pecan candy and cream cheese cake.

By day, Mancuso teaches pastry classes at LCI. Thursday nights and Saturday afternoons, she teaches home chefs the art of the tart.

King Cakes
King Cakes(WAFB)

Down the hall, Chef Cody Patin class of greenhorn gourmets are whipping up appetizers. “They are intimidated.” Patin said. “But when they come in and we explain step-by-step and break things down, they’re like, ‘I could have been making this all along.’”

“Anyone can do it.” said Tristin Casselberry as she rolled out her dough ball. “You can see my son, here, is 11 years old, and he’s been doing every part of the recipe.”

The leisure classes at LCI are designed for three hours of fun for the novice cook, or the more experienced king of the kitchen.

King Cakes
King Cakes(WAFB)

Smith’s mom surprised her this afternoon with the class. She was apprehensive at first, but eventually came around. “It’s actually pretty fun doing something different.”

Mancuso said many of her leisure students lately have been looking for something different to do while coping with the COVID lockdown. Classes like tonight’s fill up quick. And students take home whatever the cook.

And just because Mardi Gras season is almost over, Mancuso said there’s no need for her students to bury this recipe until next year. “You could make it all year round. If you wanted to change it a little bit and not put Mardi Gras colors on there, you could definitely make one for Christmas. You could make one for Easter.”

You can find a complete list of LCI’s leisure classes here.

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