King cakes, circular sweet-bread cakes festooned with bead necklaces and coated with crystallized bands of purple, green, and yellow sugar, have long been served in New Orleans to celebrate the Christian carnival season—from Epiphany Eve (this year on January 5), to Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday (February 21).
Rheinlander Bakery in Olde Town Arvada introduced king cakes to the metro area 15 years ago. In keeping with tradition (the treats are believed to have taken root in 12th century France), Rheinlander's cakes come with a small plastic baby with a crown. The baby is inserted into the cake from underneath. The guest who gets the slice with the baby is purported to receive good luck in the coming year—and is expected to host next year's party.
Rheinlander's king cakes have become so popular the bakery now carries them year-round. But this time of year, their popularity soars, meaning you'll want to order a cake in advance. Ten percent of Rheinlander's king cake proceeds goes to support Red Cross disaster relief efforts.
Bonus: Also pick up a flaky apple or cherry strudel for the morning after Mardi Gras.
5721 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, 303-467-1810
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