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French "Galette des Rois" #Epiphany

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French Galette for Epiphany

French families mark the end of the year end festive season on the Epiphany in typical Gallic fashion, by scoffing down a pastry fit for kings.

Here's the story of the Galette des Rois

In France, the end of the feast of the Epiphany is marked by eating this pastry. Whereas Christmas Eve is all about oysters and foie gras, January 6th is all about the Galette des Rois (King’s Cake).

So what’s a Galette des Rois?

It’s basically a frangipane tart made with pastry, butter, ground almonds and a few extra ingredients that will stretch the already bursting waistline for one final time before the January dieting begins.

Why talking about this?

Because the French love their traditions and none more so than the Galette des Rois, which they scoff down on January 6th each year to mark the feast of the Epiphany, which is when the three kings turned up to give gifts to Baby Jesus (allegedly).

The tradition of eating the cake dates back to the 14th century. According to tradition the cake was to draw the kings to the Epiphany.

Interestingly during the French Revolution the name was changed to “Gâteau de l’égalité” (Equality Cake) because it wasn’t really seen with good eyes to be a king at that time.

Pastry chefs reinvent every year variations of the galette

  • Dark chocolate and almonds by Sebastien Gaudard
  • Sue Su with hazelnut paste (Nutella) or with marshmallow and peanut, and even a taste of gingerbread
  • Caramelized feuilleté by Christophe Michalak
  • Hazelnut and Almonds by Yann Couvreur
  • And three Galettes by Lionel Lallement: Traditional, Exotique and Flamed, for Saint Clair Le Traiteur
  • Chocolate and pears or apples or plums... yummy!
Chocolate & Pear Galette

The protocole...

In the Galette des Rois tradition, there is an old protocol that should be followed. It's is about the charm that bakers hide inside the pastry.

First of all the youngest child of the household hides under the table and tell whoever is cutting the cake who should get which piece.

Whoever finds the charm, in French it's called “ la féve”, in their slice appoints their king or queen, who gets to wear the crown and theoretically boss the rest of the family around all day.

And then everyone just sits down and scoffs it.

The Galette can be served either with apple or pear #cider or #Champagne. We tried it too with #mulled wine!

Champagne and Galette

What’s the point of the charm?

Such a pagan custom dates back to Roman times, when festivals were organized in honour of the gods between late December and early January.

Masters and slaves ate together and a bean (la fève) was slipped into one of the dishes and whoever got it was hailed king of the feast.

When the church instituted the festival of the Epiphany to celebrate the arrival of the three wise kings, the tradition of the bean in the cake remained.

It happens that those who hate finding the charm or bean in the cake, simply swallow it.

La fève (a broad bean) was replaced around 1870 by a variety of figurines made out of porcelain or - more recently - plastic shaped of baby Jesus but can now be anything from a car to a shoe or a marriage gold ring.

Many Galette des Rois lovers collect the charms year after year and build up a fine array of little trinkets. 

With new responsibility issues, some bakers, fearing to be sued if someone chokes on it, put the charms outside the galette and leave it up to the buyer to hide it.

So everyone in France will have their cake and eat it on 1/6?

Boulangeries in France love this time of year as their sales are boosted by this seasonal pastry.

Although the French President is not allowed to “draw the kings” on Epiphany because of the etiquette rules. This is the reason why a traditional galette without figurine nor crown is served at Presidential Palace, called Palais de l'Elysée.

Here is the basic recipe which you can adapt with your preferred ingredients?

Galette des Rois


  • 2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry (pâte feuilletée)
  • 5 oz ground almond 
  • 2.4 oz soft butter 
  • 2.8 oz sugar 
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 yolk

Mix the butter and the sugar until the mix whitens, then add the beaten eggs and the ground almond. Mix well.

In the middle of the first sheet of puff pastry, pour the mix. Lay the second sheet on top, and roll the sides of the sheets together towards the inside to seal the galette. 

With a knife, draw diagonal lines in both direction (so that they cross each other) to create the pattern.

Then with a brush, spread the yolk on the whole cake to give it a golden colour. 

Put in an oven for 30 minutes at 200 degrees Serve hot, add ice cream or simply it it cold with hot chocolate.


Source: The Local - FR. 


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