Bakers around Chicago, including Justice of the Pies Maya-Camille Broussard, were happy to flip their calendars to February. Carbs and sweets are easy targets for New Year’s resolutions, and that means business can be slower. She’s responded with more lighter offerings, like quiche.
But Broussard is ready for Mardi Gras with two holiday-inspired cakes available this weekend, February 9 to 11, only.
She explains that while growing up her father, Stephen, had King Cake shipped to Chicago from a Louisiana bakery — his family’s from Lake Charles and New Iberia, Louisiana. The tradition involves finding the tiny plastic baby baked inside the cake, it can mean good luck. In the Broussard household, it meant being crowned king.
“If after biting into the pastry and my teeth hit something hard, I’d extract a little pink baby from my lips,” Maya-Camille Broussard says. “I’d win but most years, I’d lose.”
However, one year, the future baker, who many know from Netflix’s Bake Squad, says she bit into the cake and found a little brown baby: “I was so overjoyed to win a baby that was brown like me. It made up for all the years that I didn’t win,” she says.
That memory meant a lot to Broussard, and as her bakery, 8655 S. Blackstone Avenue in Avalon Park, sits in a predominantly Black community, she figured other customers would enjoy that feeling. So she spent some time searching online for packs of little, plastic, brown babies. She consents that it wasn’t easy. But she achieved her goal.
“I hope to share that joy that I received when I won as ‘king’ after finding a little brown baby,” Broussard says.
She bakes her king cake with a cinnamon layer and folds dried cherries, blueberries, and raisins. She’ll sell them by the slices. And there’s an incentive for the customer who finds the baby — they’ll win a slice of Justice of the Pie’s famous key lime pie.
That’s not the only holiday-minded treat the bakery will sell. Broussard is testing out a new cake that might appeal to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Her dark ale cake is made with stout ale, chocolate, espresso, and sour cream. It’s topped with cream cheese frosting. Broussard is hoping she can find a fandom among South Side revelers, and if it’s popular enough, she might offer it in March in time for the holiday. But for now, it’s this weekend only leading up to Fat Tuesday.