I dutifully set my reminder for the date, and started scouring the internet for a suitable recipe to make at home. First stop, an elaborate concoction for the authentic version of the King cake, which seemed like too much work.
Next, an easier version that relied on purchased cinnamon pastry dough, and a few bottles or tubes of food coloring. But the recipe was not only easy, but had more than a few unsatisfied reviewers.
Next, the online search for a bakery that sold the authentic version nearby. Don't we have enough specialty bakeries that would carry that? Alas, the closest specialty bakery didn't list them on their website. I didn't want to take a chance on not finding one if I went there.
More searching, and at last, a few answers on some internet forum. 'Giant Eagle' has them. Or 'Shop n' Save', chimed in another user. I cheered up considerably, and put it on the grocery list for my next shopping expedition. I could always try the cinnamon pastry version if that didn't work out.
Sure enough, there were about a dozen King cakes right up in the front when I went there. The only wrinkle, for the very reasonably priced and delicious looking cake, was that this plastic King baby was huge in comparison with my King baby from last year, and was taped to the plastic container, not baked into the cake, as had been the case earlier.
The cashier glared at me as I asked her the obvious question about how to go about getting the baby into the cake "Maybe make a hole and put it in?" she suggested, rather gingerly.
So that's what I did, pushing it in carefully from under the cake after making a hole with a butter knife.
Mardi Gras day arrived, and I carried it triumphantly to the office, placed it in the common conference area, and sent out a group email "Come one, come all! Try your luck at getting the piece of cake with the King baby!" to paraphrase my more formal 'officialese' email.
I had even provided utensils, and plates, along with purple napkins to make it easier for the hungry hordes. An hour later, I peeked at it to see how much was left. About 3/4 of it was gone, except for the large section of green frosted cake which harbored the King baby. People were avoiding Mr.Luck!
As it turns out, the King baby is viewed by my colleagues, not as the harbinger of good luck, but the annoyance of having to bring next year's King cake. So much for the tradition being upheld, of happily accepting the King baby, and bringing next year's cake!
The final piece with the King baby still lay forlorn and unclaimed as I left work. The next morning it had vanished, who knows where!
As for next year's King cake, will we even get one? It's all up in the air now...