This French-style King Cake, known as Galette des Rois, crowns the traditional Fete des Rois feast, celebrating Epiphany on January 6th. I love making this sweet, elegant pastry, known as Galette des Rois, as my salute to the Twelfth Day of Christmas!
The Beloved King Cake of France
Happy Twelfth Day of Christmas! We are still celebrating here, and I have the best time making this Galette des Rois, the traditional dessert enjoyed on January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. I love this cake, and remain delighted with the recipe on the King Arthur Flour website. It is clear and easy to follow, and it results in a lovely and festive dessert. Delicious, too!
King Cake in New Orleans and Louisiana
Known in Spain as Rosca de Reyes, this celebrated ring-shaped King Cake is crowned with white icing and decorated with the Mardi Gras Colors of gold, green, and purple. Here’s my recipe for this Louisiana creole-style version of King Cake, plus my Creole Bread Pudding recipe as a follow-up to that!) so that you can enjoy both kinds — I can’t imagine there ever being too much cake! And
What’s Inside and Why Do We Want to Find it?
Back to our focus on France’s rich and delicious galette des roi, which is elegant and serene. Each looks different from the outside, but the interiors of the two variations share one thing: The hidden “treasure” tucked in to the cake by its baker. This small token is said to bring good luck to the guest who discovers it inside their piece of the cake.
What Might The Feve Be?
If you want to be the lucky one, bite down with care on your portion of king cake, seeking a small favor, which might be a ceramic figurine, a coin, a charm, or in New Orleans, a little plastic baby! These unusual feve’s celebrate the baby in the manger whom the Three Kings finally found and honored on Epiphany.
Bakeries in New Orleans include a tiny plastic baby-charm in the box along with the king cake, to be inserted into the bottom of the cake by the host, just before serving. I love to use a dried apricot — It’s round, golden, and a treat for the lucky one who finds it!
Puff Pastry: The Delicious Flaky Foundation
This recipe calls for making a simplified speeded up version of puff pastry, sometimes called :rough puff. You could use store-bought puff pastry if you would prefer to get your galette made and into the oven quickly.
But if you’ve avoided making recipes that call for puff pastry because you think it’s too hard, — give this one a try! It’s really do-able and I felt so proud that I got it simply by following the directions.
A Big Puff Pastry Sheet Becomes Basis for a Classic Galette des Rois
Making this dessert is simpler than you might think. Simply roll out puff pastry and cut out one generous round, to be covered with almond custard filling, or frangipane. Place it on baking parchment on a half-sheet pan.
Cover the base sheet of puff pastry with the almond filling, leaving a generous border so that the two layers of puff pastry can be sealed together.
My Fave Feve
Apricot? Why not?
I tucked an apricot in my galette des rois, since I had them and they are golden and round, very auspicious. My back-up plan was a big pecan half, but apricot is my favorite because of its beauty and size — impossible to overlook and tender to the bite.
Hide It Inside!
Next step is placing the second round of puff pastry over the almond filling, making a beautiful mound in the center of the pastry. Seal the edges well, so that the filling stays put inside its flaky pastry borders.
The Finishing Touch: An Eggwash
You glaze the entire top with a simple egg yolk-water mixture. A little goes around the border next to the almond filling, to help seal up the two layers of buttery, flaky, handsome and delicious pastry. My glaze was splotchy, not as even as it should have been.
I took this photo after I had already put my galette into the oven to begin its baking time. I wanted a “Before” picture, but forgot. It has started to rise and also to separate, and at this point I was discouraged.
And Voila! Galette des Rois, the King Cake of France!
But I let it bake and despite ways to go I have in the presentation and beauty and technique department, my galette came out handsome and golden, and I am thrilled and proud. I plan to make this again, so that I become very familiar with the wonderful dough and almond filling. I imagine letting it chill after shaping it would be a good thing — in this case, I needed to get it right in the oven so no chance to do that, and the recipe did not call for it.
VIDEO TIME: GALETTES DES ROIS IN PARIS
This just in from Paris! “On the eve of the Epiphany, the Stohrer pastry shop, the oldest in Paris, prepares its traditional Galettes des Rois cakes. Despite a “huge slump” expected due to the pandemic, Stohrer expects to sell “up to 8,000 units” this weekend.” (1 minute 21 seconds)
If you’d like to check out the Almond Galette on the King Arthur Baking Company website, click HERE!
It’s a glorious cake, fitting for a milestone day like the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Hope it’s been a good one for you, and that you are strolling into the new year with confidence, comfort, health, big dreams, fun plans, and joy. Happy New Year, and I do hope you get the prize!
- 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 16 tablespoons (1 cup) cold butter
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2/3 cup almond paste
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- ½ cup almond flour or very finely ground whole almonds
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon cold water
- Crust: Measure flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Cut the cold butter into pats, and work it into the flour mixture until it's unevenly crumbly, with larger bits of butter remaining intact.
- Stir in the sour cream. The dough will be craggy but cohesive.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and bring it together, if necessary, with a few quick kneads.
- Pat the dough into a rough square. Roll it into a rough 8" x 10" rectangle. Make sure the underside is sufficiently dusted with flour that you can move it around easily.
- Starting with one of the shorter (8") ends, fold the dough in thirds like a business letter. Flip it over (so the open flap is on the bottom), and turn it 90°.
- Roll the dough into an 8" x 10" rectangle again. Fold it in thirds again.
- Wrap the dough in plastic, and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
- When you're ready to proceed, start preheating the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
- Divide the pastry in half. Roll one half into a 10" square.
- Using a 10"-round template (e.g., a dinner plate), cut a 10" circle. Set the circle onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Filling: Beat the almond paste, butter, sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined.
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla, and beat until well incorporated.
- Mix in the flours.
- Roll the other piece of pastry into an 11" square. Cut an 11" circle.
- To assemble the galette: Spread the filling over the smaller circle, leaving a 1" rim around the edge of the pastry.
- Glaze: Mix the egg yolk and water together. Brush some glaze over the uncovered edge of the pastry.
- Center the larger round of dough over the filled bottom crust, and smooth it over the filling. Using a fork, press and crimp the edge of the galette to seal.
- Decorate the galette by using the back of a knife to trace a pattern on the surface; you'll just barely cut into the surface without cutting all the way through.
- Poke a vent hole in the center, and four additional small slits at other random spots, hiding the slits in the pattern you've drawn.
- Bake the almond galette for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it's golden. Don't be afraid to let it become deeply browned; this slight caramelization gives the butter in the crust wonderful flavor.
- Remove the galette from the oven, and cool it slightly right on the baking sheet.
- Serve galette warm or at room temperature.
- Store any leftovers at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.