BR bakery competing at inaugural King Cake Festival in N.O.

The cake that would be king

The owners of “Thee” Heavenly Donut aren’t intimated about being the only Baton Rouge bakery competing against experienced New Orleans king cake bakers in Sunday’s first King Cake Festival at Champions Square at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“We are going to bring that award to this area,” Kara Castille vowed after accepting the challenge to put “Thee” Heavenly Donut’s unique, fried king cakes — actually very large, filled and decorated versions of the company’s doughnuts — up against favorite New Orleans-area king cakes.

The King Cake Festival, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday to benefit babies and children at Ochsner. A stroller fun run around the Superdome starts at 10 a.m. Participants are asked to decorate their strollers and dress up their babies to win prizes. The $20 registration includes a T-shirt.

The event also will include live musical performances, a kids’ zone, sampling of king cake for voting on what Castille hopes to bring home to Baton Rouge — the People’s Choice Award for best king cake.

“My mom, Catherine Estilette, owned Meche’s Donuts in Breaux Bridge for almost 30 years” before selling it and opening a doughnut shop in Baton Rouge in 2000,” Kara Castille said. “All I know is bakery work. I remember when I was 4 and sleeping on flour sacks.”

The family operates three Baton Rouge-area locations of “Thee” Heavenly Donut: 5830 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd.; 15507 Highway 44 in Gonzales; and the 17732 Highland Road location off Interstate 10 where Kara Castille and her husband, Shane Castille, make what she describes as “real moist” king cakes.

“We put cinnamon in every cake we make. We emphasis quality, not quantity,” she added.

They bake and sell about 100 to 200 king cakes a day at the Highland Road location, she said.

The cakes are available in plain or with various fillings. Their speciality king cakes include the Bananas Foster with a banana cream filling with rum and a caramel topping; the Zulu filled with Bavarian cream and topped with chocolate and coconut; and the LA Cajun Mud, filled with both Bavarian cream and chocolate and topped with cream cheese and pecans.

None of the king cakes have sugar crystals on top, but all are decorated with homemade icing, Mardi Gras beads and doubloons.

A regular king cake sells for $22.99 and serves 10 to 12 while the large size goes for $29.99 and serves 20.

They like to offer “Cajun flair” with their products, Kara Castille said. Kolaches, sold at the Highland Road location only, include both boudin and crawfish versions. Stuffed Creole meat pies are sold at all three locations.

The Highland Road bakery’s Mardi Gras hours are 4 am. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. After March 4 and a couple of days rest, they will return to their regular hours of 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, she said.

Go to their website theeheavenlydonuts.com for more information.

For complete details about the King Cake Festival in New Orleans, to register for the Stroller Fun Run or purchase tickets to the Saturday Patron Party at Benson Tower, go to KingCakeFestival.org. Call (504) 842-7113.