This story was written in anticipation of LSU Day occurring April 24. Although LSU Day has been postponed until the fall, the university would still like to acknowledge its programs and participants.
David Heidke, director of LSU Dining, said April 22 that the king cake scheduled to be prepared for the postponed April 24 event will be donated to the Baton Rouge Food Bank. Heidke added that another king cake will be baked for the rescheduled LSU Day event.
LSU Dining, Student Volunteers to Prepare, Serve Record-Sized King Cake at LSU Day
Ryan Diez, director and executive chef at The 5 campus dining facility, prepares some of the 300 2-foot sections of sweet bread that will be used in creating a university record-sized king cake for LSU Day. The cake will be composed of 2,000 pounds of dough mixed with cinnamon, 1,560 pounds of icing and 200 pounds of colored sugar. It will take approximately 40 man hours to create and, when completed, is estimated to weigh approximately 3,760 pounds and measure more than 600 feet in length. LSU Dining’s vendor sponsors provided the materials to create the cake.
What would a springtime celebration in Louisiana be without king cake, a Mardi Gras season tradition?
Thanks to the efforts of the Sesquicentennial Student Sub-Committee, LSU Dining and its sponsors, visitors to the LSU campus during LSU Day on April 24 will be able to partake in a record-breaking treat – a university record-sized king cake.
Visitors to LSU Day will be able to cheer on the effort, as well as get their piece of the cake, as it will be on display in the LSU Student Union’s Royal Cotillion Ballroom during its decoration. A ceremonial cake cutting and slice serving is scheduled for 1:50 p.m., with LSU Chancellor Michael Martin set to cut the cake.
Ryan Diez, director and executive chef at The 5 campus dining facility, said the LSU Day king cake will be composed of 2,000 pounds of dough mixed with cinnamon, 1,560 pounds of icing and 200 pounds of colored sugar. It will take approximately 40 man hours to create and, when completed, is estimated to weigh approximately 3,760 pounds and measure more than 600 feet in length. LSU Dining’s vendor sponsors provided the materials to create the cake.
Diez said he and his staff began twisting the dough for the cake April 21. They will bake the dough in 300 2-foot sections at The 5 April 22 and 23, and then deliver the sections to the Royal Cotillion Ballroom the morning of April 24 for connection and decoration by LSU Dining staff and student volunteers.
Iftekhar Rouf, chair of the Sesquicentennial Student Committee, said that plans for a student contribution to LSU Day began about a year ago.
“Initially want to do something big,” Rouf said. “We wanted to set a record of some kind and let people know that LSU can do big things and they can be a part of those big things. We also wanted to bring students and staff together to show people that the LSU community could come together to do something on a grand scale.”
After discussing options that ranged from world-record jambalayas, crawfish boils, bananas foster and even a record Rice Krispie treat, the committee chose to create a king cake. Rouf said the decision came from the desire to create something with a distinct Louisiana tie.
“The committee wanted something that ties into Louisiana and LSU, and king cake certainly does that,” Rouf said. “Everyone loves king cake. People ship them from here all over the world. We’d looked at other options. However, after we analyzed individual principals and costs, we had to eliminate a lot of those options.”
The lore of king cake — usually a one-foot diameter braided ring sweet roll cake about three inches wide — is deeply rooted in Christian religious history. The “king” name comes from the Biblical account of the Three Wise Men, who traveled to see the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Traditionally, a small plastic baby representing Jesus is hidden in the cake after it’s baked but before it is decorated. A common tradition is that whoever eats the piece containing the plastic baby is supposed to provide the king cake for the next gathering.
A Mardi Gras-style “second line” helped to celebrate the creation of a Guinness world record king cake at LSU in 1998. Chartwells, the private company in charge of LSU’s dining services, created the cake.
Another reason the sub-committee chose a king cake was because LSU had previously created at Guinness World Record king cake in 1998. That cake was measured at about 182 feet in circumference and was about six inches wide. The cake, which was created to feed about 4,000 people, was baked in sections at the then-Pentagon Dining Unit and brought to the LSU Student Union, where it was iced and decorated. Chartwells, the private company in charge of LSU’s dining services, purchased the dough for the cake from Pillsbury, and a six-foot styrofoam Pillsbury Dough Boy reigned as king of the Mardi Gras party.
Creation of the 1998 king cake took about 240 pounds of dough, 75 pounds of sugar and 5 pounds of cinnamon. The confection took about four days to bake and weighed about 350 pounds.
In 1998, LSU originally set the Guinness world record for baking a king cake That cake was measured at about 182 feet in circumference and was about six inches wide. This year’s cake looks to dwarf the previous record confection.
That record was later broken by Tulane University in 2009, where university staff created at 300-foot king cake.
So, Rouf said, the committee decided to make the project more interesting.
“Tulane University has a record king cake of 300 feet,” Rouf said. “They recently did it again, creating a 400-foot cake, but they were disqualified because it was done by length. We figured that we could create an even larger cake than they did. It’s a way of starting another friendly rivalry.”
After more research, the committee found that a group in Mexico holds the current Guinness world king cake record.
“We tried to see if we could break the current king cake record, but Guinness said for them to be able to record something under the food category, it has to be done by weight,” Rouf said. “The standing record for a king cake is almost 60,000 pounds. It was made in Mexico during their Three Kings Celebration. We figured trying to top that would be a bit of a stretch for LSU Dining and its sponsors to undertake.”
Diez said that the Mexican king cake differs from the American king cake in its formation and density, which creates issues when referring to “king cake” in Guinness records.
“It’s a different style of cake,” Diez said. “But Guinness has their definition of ‘king cake’ as being pretty broad.”
The committee tried to keep with the 150th anniversary theme in deciding upon length, Rouf said, but setting a new record meant going beyond that boundary.
“We knew that 150 feet would be too short, and 1,500 feet was too large,” he said.
After the committee decided upon a king cake, it presented the proposal LSU Dining.
When moved to the ballroom on LSU Day, Rouf said, the goal is to lay out the cake to have it spell out “LSU 150” in the center of the room.
LSU Dining personnel and student volunteers will serve 1-inch slices of cake, which totals approximately 6,624 pieces of cake served during LSU Day. Rouf said the committee hoped to allocate 30 student-only volunteers to help with the king cake.
“We want to emphasize that the funding for this project does not cost the students anything,” Rouf said. “The cake materials are being generously donated by LSU Dining’s sponsors. The LSU Student Union is providing tables and staff to help on LSU Day.”
And what of the ceremonial plastic baby in this record-sized king cake?
“I’m only putting in one plastic baby,” Diez said. “Remember, whoever gets the baby has to buy the next cake, and that person will have to buy a lot of cake.”
For more information on LSU Day, including a full schedule of events, visit www.lsuday.com or call 225-578-6380.
Aaron Looney | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations