Louisiana’s Mardi Gras traditions are known for their grandeur, from the floats all the way down to the food. King Cake is the staple dessert during this season, and The Ambrosia Bakery has some of the best in Baton Rouge. We met with co-owner Felix Sherman to learn how his team handles this busy Louisiana season.
Visit Baton Rouge: How long has Ambrosia Bakery been around?
Felix Sherman: My parents founded [Ambrosia] back in 1993. We grew up in New Orleans, then lived in Metairie. At that time, my mom actually found a friend of ours’ mother and asked her if she wanted to go take cake decorating lessons. From Metairie, we moved to Houma, Louisiana and then from Houma, they got transferred over here to Baton Rouge. My mom was still decorating cakes and my dad was selling insurance. On top of that, my mom was working at Cracker Barrel, wrapping presents, and they finally got to a point where they said, “That's it, we're opening up a bakery.” They opened up the first Ambrosia on Perkins Road on the other side of Siegen, which was only 1,000 square feet.
VBR: What would you say is Ambrosia’s most popular dessert?
FS: Of course, our Fresh Strawberry Cake is our number one—that's the one that everybody comes for. Everybody tries to copy the best—that's why we keep the recipe secret. Not one individual employee knows the exact formula for the entire cake because it's made in different departments. It's just something that's special and refreshing that people want to have and eat and enjoy.
VBR: Can you walk us through the process of making a king cake from scratch?
FS: Every king cake that we sell is all handmade. We use a brioche dough, and divide it into certain weights to make a dough ball. A regular size king cake will get two of these dough balls that have to go through the sheeter to shape it into an oval. From there, we put in the cinnamon and sugar and any fillings. Then we roll it up, braid it, and tie it together to place on a pan to proof before baking in the oven. Every king cake gets a baby unless requested not to, and then once the king cakes cool down, we'll put the icing on top and add the purple, green and gold sugars.
VBR: How many different king cake flavors do you sell?
FS: The options are almost endless. The traditional flavor would be cinnamon and sugar, and then there’s strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, pineapple, bavarian, and cream cheese. You can also add cream cheese to all of those different flavors. On top of that, we have our pecan praline cream cheese that can come with regular icing or caramel icing.
VBR: How would you describe a king cake to someone who has never had one before?
FS: It kind of tastes like a cinnamon roll, and of course if you add filling, it gives a good flavor to it. It's just something you’ve got to try and see if you like it—most people just love it!
VBR: How many do you usually sell during Mardi Gras? Is that your busiest season?
FS: Anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000. Believe it or not, we had an order for one customer the other day for 40 king cakes. It is a very busy season.
VBR: What are you most excited about for Mardi Gras this year?
FS: It's a fun time because everybody here gets involved in making king cakes. It's a lot of fun for the Ambrosia team to be able to create a product that everybody wants. We enjoy that tremendously and it kind of makes you feel good. In fact, that's how it is with every product we offer—there's a lot of love that goes into each and every product that we have here.
Felix and his family have been keeping the spirit of Mardi Gras alive for 30 years with their signature flavors and the dedication they put into every cake they bake. Choose from a long list of flavors when you stop by or go online to order one of their homemade king cakes just in time for the Mardi Gras season at https://www.ambrosiabakery.com/.