Galette des Rois, whose origins in France date back to the 14th century, is a special cake enjoyed only for a few days before and after January 6th, the Christian feast day of Epiphany, also known as la fête des Rois.
The classic version consists of flaky puff pastry layers with a dense centre of creamy frangipane, or almond cream.
It can also be filled with a chocolate-almond cream, pastry cream, fruit or jam.
Whatever the variation, galette des Rois always has a fève, or small ceramic figurine, hidden somewhere in the cake. Whoever gets the fève is crowned king (or queen) for the day!
At this time of year in Paris there are galettes des Rois in bakeries and pastry shops everywhere. But it’s easy to make your own galette des Rois, even if you don’t have much experience with puff pastry. The pre-made puff pastry available in supermarkets works very well.
Galette des Rois (Twelfth Night Cake)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 25 to 30 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
This classic recipe can easily be adapted to make a delicious chocolate variation of galette des Rois (see note below).
- 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) powdered almonds
- 75 grams (2 1/2 ounces) sugar
- 60 grams (2 ounces) softened butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure almond or vanilla extract (or a tablespoon of rum)
- 2 sheets of puff pastry rolled to about 3 mm, or 1/10″ thick
- 1 egg yolk (for the egg wash)
- 1 tablespoon of icing sugar
- a fève, or small ceramic trinket
- Lay both sheets of puff pastry on separate pieces of parchment paper. Using a knife and an inverted medium-sized bowl, trace a circle on each sheet of pastry about 3 cm (one inch) larger than the bowl. Carefully cut the circles using scissors or a sharp knife. Set one circle aside.
- In a bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the almond powder, sugar, butter, egg and almond extract until a smooth cream is obtained. If desired, one tablespoon of rum can be used instead of the almond or vanilla extract.
- Place one circle of puff pastry in a pie plate that is slightly larger (the edges should lay flat) and poke it in a few places with a fork. Place the almond mixture in the centre and spread it evenly, leaving the border strip uncovered. Brush some egg yolk over this outside border. Tuck a ceramic trinket or dried bean somewhere near the outer edge of the almond cream filling. Place the second circle over the first one and press the edges together to seal the cake.
- Using the back of a sharp knife, trace some diagonal lines or swirls on the surface and brush with egg wash (yolk thinned with a little water). Make a few small holes across the galette to prevent it from puffing up and bursting. Bake in a preheated oven at 210 degrees C (410 degrees F) for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- When done, remove from oven and brush with a mixture of 1 tablespoon icing sugar and 1 tablespoon boiling water, returning to oven for one minute. This will give the galette a nice shine.
To make a chocolate galette des Rois, place 100 grams (3.5 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped, in a heat-proof bowl set above some barely simmering water and stir until melted. Allow to cool and incorporate into the almond cream mixture.
Galette des Rois may be served warm or cold. If you make it more than a day in advance, cover it with plastic film and store it in the refrigerator. Just remember to warm it in the oven for a few minutes before serving.
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