Boudin King Cake: Savory Twist On Sweet Louisiana Favorite
LAFAYETTE, LA (AP) — It started when a history professor merged two of his extracurricular loves, king cake and boudin, and posted a photo and description on his websites. Social media posts and a brief newspaper article brought a deluge of orders for boudin king cakes — savory rings of braided dough filled with rice-and-ground-meat sausage and topped with pork cracklin crumbs and cane syrup.
Within two weeks, bakeries in Lafayette, New Orleans, Shreveport and Port Barre were making their own versions of boudin king cakes, and they're selling faster than bakers can make them.
"This is truly amazing," said Robert Carriker, department head of history, geography, and philosophy for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and creator of the kingcaker.com and boudinlink.com websites, where he reviews versions of the Carnival-season sweet cake and the year-round sausage from around Louisiana and other states.
"I've never been a part of something like this," he continued. "Who has? It is truly incredible to think that something I invented — if that is the right word — has become so widely embraced in so short a time."
Shortly after Carriker wrote about his creation, The Daily Advertiser wrote about it. Carriker got hundreds of orders from across the country. He couldn't fill them all and teamed up with Lafayette's Twins Burgers and Sweets. The newspaper's article about that development was shared more than 22,000 times on Facebook.
And the craze began.
Asked how many boudin king cakes they've sold, bakeries across the state have the same reply: Too many to keep track of.
"As fast as we can get them out of the oven," said Billy Guilbeaux, co-owner of Twins. "We kind of had to stop taking orders because we didn't have time to count how many we had. All four of our phone lines are ringing off the hook."
The social media frenzy brought the idea to Lilah's bakery in Shreveport. A customer offered to supply the boudin and cracklins.
"We made it for her, and she loved it," said the bakery's co-owner Lisa Tike. "Then we asked for guinea pigs to taste test it for us."
On Jan. 30, the bakery began taking orders for its version, stuffed with boudin and pepper jack cheese and topped with pepper jelly as well as Carriker's original toppings.
"My husband and I have talked about doing a more savory king cake for years," Tike said. "It's awesome that we were able to get in on this one."
Although there are now a number of bakeries making the boudin king cakes, each puts its own stamp on the dish.
Cajun Market Donut Company in Lafayette starts with doughnut dough, then adds pepper jack cheese and boudin from Poche's Market in Breaux Bridge. Bacon and a mixture of Steen's cane syrup and pepper jelly top the ring.
"We were already working on a boudin cinnamon roll with Steen's cane syrup," said owner Nathan Liebert. "Whenever I saw The Daily Advertiser article, I said, 'Oh my gosh. I'm already working on something very similar. I can do this.'"
Liebert has gotten hundreds of orders and has had to enlist help from his wife and mom to fulfill the orders. He is only offering the boudin king cakes in Lafayette, not his Broussard and Breaux Bridge stores.
"We've already had people driving in from Texas and Oklahoma just to pick these crazy things up," Liebert said, laughing. "People in Louisiana love their boudin. What more can you say?"
Bourque's Supermarket in Port Barre began selling a similar king cake Jan. 27. It's filled with boudin and pepper jack and topped with jalapenos, cracklins, pepper jelly and cane syrup.
"Everybody around here just loves boudin, so if somebody takes boudin and cracklin and puts it all together in a king cake, it's going to go crazy," said Chad Bourque, a co-owner of the supermarket. "I thought, 'Man, I could make a damn good boudin-and-cracklin king cake with our products here.'"
Bourque uses his store's housemade boudin and cracklins in the king cake. The concept isn't so terribly different from one of the supermarket's specialties: a jalapeno, sausage and cheese bread.
"That's something we're very well-known for and we've been selling for 29 years," Bourque said. "We sell about 60 or 70 per day and use the same dough for our boudin king cakes."
The boudin king cake craze reached the Crescent City through Cake Cafe.
Steve Himelfarb, owner of the New Orleans bakery, said his Facebook feed had suddenly blown up with posts about boudin king cake.
"I'm like, 'What the heck is going on?' Himelfarb said. "Wednesday, I got an early start and was done early. I said, 'I want to know what this tastes like,' and I made a dozen, took a picture and before I knew it, I was getting calls."
Himelfarb's is a single-serve cake stuffed with boudin and topped with cane syrup and bacon.
He hasn't been able to keep up with the demand since that first social media post.
"Boudin is so Louisiana, and it hits home for a lot of people," Himelfarb said. "It's tasty, but it also gives you that feeling you get when your grandma makes something.
"We're going to keep making the boudin king cakes. It's fun. It's unexpected, but it's fun."
– by AP/ Reporter Megan Wyatt with The Daily Advertiser