Thursday 3 January 2013

La Galette des Rois or Kings' Cake recipe

Who wouldn’t want to be a king for a day? In France, it’s possible every 6th of January.

The Epiphany is a Christian holiday celebrated on the 6th of January marking the day when Jesus was visited by the three wise men.

I don’t think many French people know this part of the story but what they surely love is eating la “galette des rois” or Kings’ cake every year on the Epiphany Day.

So what is this all about? Just after Christmas, every French bakery or patisserie sells this round shaped cake made with layers of flaky puff pastry and a frangipane filling. Each “galette des rois” comes with a golden paper crown and hides a little porcelain figurine in it called “la fève”. The figurine can represent anything: a character, an object, an animal, etc…

On the Epiphany day, families gather around a table with the sliced “galette des rois” in the centre. The youngest person of the family goes underneath the table and decides to whom the slices should go to. The person who finds the “fève” in his/her slice of cake is the king of the day and gets to wear the crown!

As a child I only liked “la galette des rois” for finding the “fève”, I was actually collecting them but I wasn’t big on the frangipane. However it has always been a great foodie tradition to share with my family, I won’t let this fade away.

I’ll always remember Mr. FFID in France years ago on Epiphany day being asked by my family to go underneath the table because he was the youngest at that time, he didn’t have a clue of what was going on and once again thought us French were just a bunch of crazies.

Anyhow, this year I decided to try some “galette” baking. This isn’t my recipe but a translation of a recipe from “Journal des femmes” (watch the video if you understand French). The filling is made of almond cream, which is delicious. The result doesn’t quite look like the “galette des rois” you find in French fancy French bakeries so please don’t laugh!

Also I couldn’t find the “fève” here in Dublin so I used a thimble bought in an Irish souvenir shop, it’s a bit big but it gave an Irish twist to the cake.

Try it and enjoy being the king of the day if you find the fève!

La Galette des rois or Kings' cake recipe


2 sheets of all butter puff pastry
100 g butter
125 g of almond powder
100 g sugar
3 eggs
a handful of whole almonds (optional)


In a bowl, mix the softened butter with the sugar and almond powder. Add 1 egg, mix really well and then add another egg. You can also add a handful of chopped whole almonds to give crunchiness to the almond cream.

Place a 25 cm diameter round puff pastry sheet on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Using a baking brush, moisten the edges of the dough with water. Evenly spread the almond cream at the centre of the dough. Now, this is also time to place the little porcelain figurine on the cream.

Put the second sheet of round shaped pastry puff on top and gently press the edges of the cake with your fingers to seal well and roll inwards. Score along the edges with a knife.

Mix an egg with a teaspoon of milk, then brush the surface of the pastry but don’t do this on the edges.

Place in the fridge for 30 minutes and preheat your oven at 240 degrees. Take the cake out of the fridge and brush it again with the milk/egg mix, be careful not to spill over the sides of the cake as this would prevent the pastry from rising. Score diagonals on the top of the cake with a knife.

Bake at 240 ° C for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 180 ° C for the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Once the cake is cooked, brush with a cold sugar syrup (5 ml water brought to a boil with 50 g of sugar) to make it look shiny.

Source: Journal des Femmes