Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Galette des Rois - Cake of Kings

See recipe below...

On Twitter this morning, I was reminded of a cake that I had not seen in 10 years, a Galette des Rois (King's cake).  Since I have not been back to France since the year that I spent studying there,  I had forgotten about this cake and how it is served with a crown on top, which I saw at several boulangeries in France. I remember how not-so-sweet, but oh-so-buttery it was (as all French desserts are).

And what I learned on Twitter from the My France website, was that today is the precise day that a Galette de Rois should be eaten!  So I decided to make one today.

Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th,  which corresponds to the day baby Jesus was presented to the Three Wise Men, and consequently it is the date of the baptism of Christ (ref).

So the cake is not only served with a crown on top, but a toy or figurine should be tucked inside, and whoever receives it, gets to wear the crown and 'be king for the day'. That person also has to provide the cake the following year.

I searched online for recipes and ended up using a mix of two Galette des Rois recipes, from BBC Good Food and Food Network. I modified the recipes (see mine below) because I don't like almond extract, and I didn't have apricot jam on hand, but I felt like dark rum fit this traditional European style of cake.

Both recipes called for store-bought puff pastry, which I did not have on hand, so I looked for a recipe and ended up using the one at this link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/quickest-puff-pastry-recipe.html which worked out beautifully - with the egg wash on it, it was flaky, layered and, well, a perfect puff pastry.

In my household, this cake was an absolute success - the kids loved it, my husband loved it and I certainly enjoyed a large piece myself (despite those nagging thoughts about getting fit in January lingering in my head).

So here is the recipe that I made, modified from the two above:

Recipe: Galette des Rois

Ingredients for the almond cream ('frangipane' cream):

1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of ground almonds
3/4 cups sugar
4 tbsp. of all-purpose, unbleached flour
3 eggs
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp. dark rum

Puff pastry: store bought or find a great recipe here.


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. With a stand mixer, mix all the ingredients for the almond cream until just blended.

3. On a slightly floured cold surface, cut two 9" circles (about the size of round dinner plates, or use a pie plate or the bottom of a springform pan flipped upside to cut your circles). Put one of them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

4. Brush one inch around the edge of the circle with egg wash (beaten egg yolk). Spread half of the almond cream on the center (leaving the 1" edge without cream) and place the second circle on top. 

5. Press all around the edges to glue them together with a fork. Press softly in the center to evenly spread the filling.

6. Decorate the galette with a knife, and make any design that you like.  Search on Google for Galette de Rois images to assist in design, or simply make curved lines to the centre as I have - it baked very well and looked quite nice.

7. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash, but DO NOT get any on the sides that you pressed with the fork.

8. Put the galette in the centre of your preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for 25 more minutes. Keep the cake in the oven and simply pull the rack out to sprinkle with icing sugar, then bake for five more minutes. 

  • Serve warm or at room temperature with a crown on top.
  • Tradition says that you should cut enough pieces in advance for every person at your dinner, plus one piece, which is reserved for the 'first pauper to appear at the dwelling' (ref). You can also tuck a toy inside one piece for the tradition of King for the day.

Do not wrap this cake in plastic wrap, or you will lose the wonderful flakiness of the pastry.

Remaining Almond Cream:

You can use the second amount of cream for a second Galette des Rois, if you have enough dinner guests (i.e. more than 8) or if you have enough puff pastry. Alternately, place the almond cream on any left over puff pastry and sprinkle on some raisins, then roll it up and cut one-inch rounds (like cinnamon rolls) and you will have an excellent Pain au Raisin to bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Next year, I absolutely MUST make a chocolate Galette des Rois, like this one: http://www.ledicodesfilles.com/tag/galette-des-rois-au-chocolat/.

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