In France it is a tradition to share the Galette des Rois (King Cake) on Epiphany Day, which is on January 6th. It celebrates the arrival of the three Wise Men in Bethlehem.
During the entire month of January, in most bakeries and pastry shops you will find the traditional Galette des Rois (King Cake) but over time new fillings and flavor have developed.
The traditional Galette des Rois (King Cake) is made with puff pastry filled with a almond cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs and sugar or made with the popular “frangipane” filling which is a blend of almond cream and pastry cream. A small charm called “la fêve” (originally a broad bean, then in 1870 replaced by a porcelain figurine and more recently plastic) is hidden in the Galette des Rois and the person who finds “the fêve” in his or her slice becomes king (or queen) for the day and wears a crown.
In the South of France, you will find a cake called “Gâteau des Rois” or “Royaume” which is a brioche with candied fruits and sugar. The cake has a shape and colors to a crown.
Galette des Rois (King Cake)
- 1 pound of puff pastry, thawed if frozen
- 1 small charm (called "fêve"). If you do not have it place a dried bean or a pecan half
- 1 yolk for egg wash
- For almond cream filling :
- 100 g butter at room temperature
- 100 g sugar
- 100 g almond powder
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) Rhum, Grand Marnier or Cognac (optional)
- 2-4 drops of almond extract (optional)
- For the syrup (shiny finished):
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 tsp of the same alcohol you used in the filling (optional)
- To make the almond filling:
- In a bowl put the butter softened and whip it until is creamy. Add the sugar and whip until well combined.
- Add 1 egg and half of almond powder, mix well than add the second egg and the rest of the almond past. Combine until the cream is smooth. If you like, add the alcohol and almond extract.
- Put this almond cream in the fridge.
- With the puff pastry:
- Cut out two same circles of 24 cm (9.45 inches) in diameter.
- On a parchment paper or silicon baking mat, place one circle of the dough. Brush 1 inch of the edge of the pastry dough with water or a yolk mixed with a little of water.
- Spread the almond ream over the center or use a pastry bag and start to pipe in a spiral in the center until you are close to the inch that you just brushed with water or egg wash.
- Put the "fêve" in the almond cream in a vertical position close to the edge and not in the middle or the galette.
- Put the second circle of puff pastry on the top of almond cream and gently try to remove all the air between the filling and the dough with your hand. Then press well with your fingers all around the circle to be sure that the edge is well sealed.
- Carefully return the galette and put it on a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking mat.
- With a knife gently score all the galette's edges (do not use the sharp part of your knife, turn it down and use the opposite. In this way, you do not cut the dough but just score it).
- If you did not use an egg to seal the dough, prepare the egg wash by mixing a yolk with a little water and brush evenly all the galette with a cooking brush. Be careful to not put egg on all the vertical side of your galette otherwise your puff pastry will not rise correctly!
- Put your galette in your fridge for at least 40 minutes.
- Preheat oven at 360F.
- Take your galette from the fridge and put again egg wash so the galette will be bright when cooked.
- In the same way you use the knife to score it, draw without pressing too hard a decorative design (crossed lines, curves lines, leaves, flowers...) on the top of your galette.
- To allow the steam to escape, give few pokes with your knife in the top of your galette, but never in the center to avoid the cream filling to escape.
- Put the galette in the oven during 20mn at 360F, then lower to 320F for 20mn, and lower to 290F for 30mn.
- Take out the galette from the oven and wash the surface with a syrup made with the same quantity of sugar and water (you can add in this syrup a touch of alcohol that you put in your almond cream filling) or Maple Syrup and return for 3 last minutes the galette in the oven so the galette will have a shiny finished.
- Let it cool down a few minutes to enjoy a part of galette and maybe to be the king (or queen) of the day if you got the "fêve".