January 02, 2015

French Friday: Galette des Rois

January 2, 2015 {2/365} - Galette des Rois

The holiday season continues in France on January 6 as many celebrate Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas. To commemorate the visitation of Magi to the Baby Jesus and their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the French enjoy the traditional Galette des rois, the King's Cake. This delicious puffed pastry filled with frangipane accompanies the "tirer le roi" (find the king) ritual. The galette must be cut into enough slices for each person sitting at the table plus one. The extra slice is symbolically reserved for travelers like the Magi or poor visitors. After the slices are cut, the youngest person in the room goes under the table, and announces who will receive each slice. The youngest person is believed to be the most honest and innocent guest who will insure fair distribution of the slices. Such an importance is given to the distribution because of the lucky charm, la fève, hidden inside the galette. Originally the fève was a bean, but during the Belle Epoque, it evolved into a porcelain or plastic trinket, traditionally in the form of a baby. In recent years, the fève has taken a variety of forms and has become a popular item for collectors called fabophiles. The person who finds the fève becomes king for the day and will wear the cake's golden paper crown. 

Here is a traditional recipe. Bon appétit!

  • 1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond paste
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 dried bean (lima or kidney beans work well) or trinket
  • Pinch of salt

  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Butter a large baking sheet (not dark metal).
  • In a food processor, purée the almond paste, sugar, butter and pinch of salt until smooth.
  • Add 1 egg, vanilla and almond extract, then purée until incorporated.
  • Add the flour and pulse to mix it in.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out one sheet of the puff pastry into an 11.5 inch square.
  • Invert an 11 inch pie plate onto the square and cut out a round shape by tracing the outline of the pie plate with the tip of a paring knife.
  • Brush the flour from both sides of the round and place it on the buttered baking sheet. Put in the refrigerator to chill.
  • Repeat the procedure with the second square of puff pastry, but leave it on the floured surface.
  • Beat the remaining egg and brush some of it on top of the second round. Score decoratively all over the top using the tip of a paring knife and make several small slits all the way through the pastry to create steam vents.
  • Remove the first sheet from the refrigerator and brush some of the egg in a 1 inch border around the edge. Mound the almond cream in the center, spreading slightly.
  • Bury the bean in the almond cream. Place the scored round on top and press the edges together.
  • Bake the galette in the lower third of the oven for 13 to 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from oven and dust with the confectioner's sugar.
  • Place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and return galette to cook for an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until the edge is a deep golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.