MIDWEST CITY — Jenifer Cameron wants to bake you a cake fit for a king.
The New Orleans native is bringing a touch of her Louisiana upbringing to the Oklahoma City metro area with her king cake fundraiser.
For the second year in a row, Cameron is baking king cakes to raise money for the Mobile Meals program and Free Friday Meal at her church, Douglas Boulevard United Methodist, 208 S Douglas Blvd.
A king cake is a popular sweet bread traditionally served during the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, the festive time generally celebrated in the days beginning with the Feast of Epiphany on Jan. 6, leading up to the Christian season of Lent.
The traditional cake is a circular loaf of sweet bread filled with cinnamon and topped with frosting and/or colored sugar in Mardi Gras hues of green, purple and gold.
A plastic trinket in the form a baby — representing the Christ child — is typically hidden inside the treat, and the person who finds it is dubbed king or queen for the day and may be obligated to hold a festive gathering.
Cameron, 42, said she created more than 40 of the seasonal cakes to raise money for the church last year, and the treats were so popular, she and other church members thought it would be good to offer them again.
She said she already has baked more than 40 cakes this year, so she knows she will far exceed last year's total.
She plans to bake the cakes until Fat Tuesday on Feb. 12.
Treats from home
Cameron said she and her husband, Edwin, who is retired from the Navy, have lived in the Oklahoma City metro area for several years. His final assignment was Tinker Air Force Base.
She said she started baking king cakes for friends because they are connected to her native New Orleans.
“I missed home,” Cameron said.
She said she quickly found out how popular they are among Oklahomans. Before long, she had people asking her to make more.
She said she made the traditional king cake of braided sweet bread with a cinnamon filling last year from several recipes she spliced together. This year, she is offering a variety of fillings, such as cream cheese, cherry, apple, strawberry, blueberry and lemon, in addition to the traditional cinnamon. Icing flavors are varied as well, and she said she also is offering a king cake made from a recipe suitable for diabetics.
Cameron said she makes the traditional braided king cake and a smaller king cake suitable for an individual or small group of people.
Helping feed others
The Rev. Jeannie Himes, the church's senior pastor, said Cameron's baking fundraiser is appreciated for many reasons.
“The uniqueness is appealing, and it's something that Jenifer is good at,” Himes said.
The pastor said Cameron was known for her baking skills because she bakes the church's communion bread.
Cameron said all of the baking right now is worthwhile because it is raising money for her church's meal programs, for which she is a volunteer.
Himes said the church saw a community need for a Mobile Meals program in the area, and numerous volunteers help with that effort twice a week. She said the church also offers a free meal for anyone in the community from 5 to 6:30 p.m. each Friday. She said the church operates both programs in conjunction with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
Have cake, will travel
Cameron said she sent some of her king cakes to friends in North Dakota last year, and the church sent several to church members serving overseas in the military. She said she was happy to send one cake to her uncle in New Orleans, who sent her a message that he and his friends loved it.
“I got the OK from someone in New Orleans, so I'm OK,” she said.
As orders are placed, Cameron said she currently makes between 12 and 14 cakes on an allotted baking day, doubling the amount she was able to bake at one time last year. She said she has a crew of fellow church members who want to help create the treats when more orders start rolling in, as they hope they will.
“We're hoping that we'll get more orders so that I can't do it all by myself,” she said, smiling.
And as for the plastic Christ child trinket traditionally baked into the cake, Cameron said she doesn't place the item inside her treats for fear of someone choking.
Instead, she places a few colored Mardi Gras beads and faux coins in a small plastic package along with the baby on the side.