Monday, February 21, 2011

The Traveling Baker: Gonzales, Louisiana

I've recently returned from my semi-annual trek to my hometown of Gonzales, Louisiana.  In addition to being the jambalaya capital of the world, Gonzales is home to great po-boys and Cal's Bakery.  Located less than a mile from the house I grew up in, Cal's has been a Gonzales institution for a lot longer than I've been around.

When I was little, my Papaw would go to Cal's on Saturday mornings and come home with cinnamon rolls.  In a true display of Cajun lily-guilding, he'd split them open and fry them in butter.  Once I was old enough to cross the street, I'd ride my bike there, bringing donuts home to surprise my mom and godmother.  All of my birthday cakes (including the one with the New Kids on the Block edible image) came from Cal's.  A trip home is not complete without stopping by.

Now that I've become a cake snob, I tend to spend my calories on the donuts.  Cal's has the best donuts.  Ever.  I mean it.  They're not fancy, but they are the perfect blend of textures and flavors.  The jelly donut literally explodes with raspberry filling, which is the same filling they use in cakes.  The donuts (and donut holes) come two ways: traditional glazed and chocolate glazed.  The chocolate glaze is something I've not seen anywhere else, so I feel the need to eat at least a half dozen.  Holes, that is; I'm not completely without restraint.

And since anytime between New Year's and Ash Wednesday is considered Mardi Gras season, visiting Ca'ls in February also means king cake.  I'll tell you the story of king cake when I make my own in a couple of weeks, but I'll tell you that this one was filled with cinnamon sugar and sweet sream cheese and was yummy.  I had to leave before we found the baby, so either my mom or my godmother owe me a king cake the next time I'm down!

What is it about nostalgia that can make baked goods taste even better?  Perhaps it's the sweet memories along with the sweet treats.  Either way, Cal's is one of my favorite place to visit.  If you ever find yourself traveling I-10 between New Orleans and Batong Rouge, hop off at exit 179 and head just a couple of miles down Burnside, a.k.a. Hwy 44.  If you're feeling absurdly indulgent, try the fried croissant.  But no matter what you try, I guarantee that Cal's Bakery is the best way in Gonzales to...

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