Bonne Année! Meilleur Vœux!
I hope your 2017 is off to a good start! My family and I are back in Paris after spending the holidays in Florida. Our time in Florida was filled with eating lots of avocados and mangos (which are always expensive and never very good in Paris), swimming pool time, golf cart rides, outlet mall shopping (ok, that was just me enjoying that) and going to the movies twice to see films not dubbed into French!
Now back home in Paris the boys are back in school and I’m back to work coaching English and in the middle of our galette des rois social schedule.
The galette des rois (King’s Cake) is one of France’s most popular food events of the year. Everyone from friends, families, colleagues and even school kids has at least a slice or two of the famous galette des rois during the month of January. Just for example, so far my boys had one in Florida after Christmas with family and friends, one at school, one at Sunday school, one with the French family last weekend, one with their team after football practice and I am baking another one again on Sunday to have with friends (and the month is not over yet)!
It’s also a good excuse to see your friends in early January after the rush of Christmas to have them come by for a slice of galette and a cup of cider, which the galette is traditionally served with.
Galette des rois are eaten to celebrate epiphany, which falls on January 6. In Western Christianity this marks the arrival of the Magi (Three Wise Men) to baby Jesus. In Eastern Christianity epiphany celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. It is also said to be the date of the wedding at Cana.
In France, a laic (secular) country with Catholic traditions, epiphany is all about the galette des rois. The galette des rois is a cake made from buttery, flakey puff pastry dough that it filled with frangipane (almond crème). That is not all that is it filled with! Both kids young and old will agree that the fève baked inside is the best part.A fève is a small charm, usually in porcelain. Whoever finds the fève is the king or queen for the year and gets to wear a crown.
Tradition says that the youngest crawls under the table while the galette is being cut and they say the name of the person that the next slice goes to. This way everything is fair and square and in case the fève is visible during the cutting of the cake, the person under the table doesn’t know to whom it is going.
It’s a little unorthodox but each year I bring a couple galettes with me to Florida to have with my mom and her friends. This year Joyce and Bob were the lucky royalty.
Any idea what Bob’s seasonal job is? You got it! He’s Santa at the local mall! He grows his beard out months in advance, not an easy thing in the Florida heat. He had just trimmed it off the day before our galette.
Once back in Paris I made a galette des rois on January 7 but the downside with a homemade one is you don’t get the little gold paper crown always included in the store bought ones. We improvised and my son got to wear part of his Christmas present (the game Headbandz).
Last year I didn’t have a paper crown either so when my friend Maureen got the fève I found a wig in our costume drawer.
In the past I was a little intimidated by these galettes, never attempting to make them myself. I bought them at the bakery at often astronomical prices or occasionally at the super market when the galette was going to be for the kids. Some of the mainstream grocery store brands have funny fèves often coming from the blockbuster Disney movie of the year (Minions, Jungle Book, etc.).
Now I make them on my own every year and I promise it is not complicated and tastes SO much better. I’ve taken the galette recipe from multiple sources and tweaked it a little.
Many of the recipes I’ve seen call for 100g of almond powder, I up mine to 125g because I like it extra filled, I’m a glutton! Plus here in France our almond powder comes in 125g packets.
Here is my recipe for Galette des Rois.
Ingredients (for 6/8 people): – 2 round puff pastry sheets – 125g ground almonds – 125g butter at room temperature – 125g of sugar – 2 tbsp. dark or amber rum – 1 tbsp. almond extract – 2 whole eggs at room temperature – 1 fève (charm/bean/coin) – one egg yolk mixed with a little milk
Mix the almond powder, softened butter, sugar, rum, almond extract and the 2 eggs. When the mixture is well combined, spoon it onto one of the rounds of pastry leaving one inch from the edges empty.
Place the fève into the almond crème (tip- don’t put it directly in the center because you’ll cut into it when serving it.
Use your finger to wet the edges of the dough with water or a little egg wash then place the second pastry round on top. Use the tines of a fork to or a knife to press the edges of the two pastry rounds together, you can scallop this and make it pretty. Now this is where French bakers get creative and leave their signature. Use a sharp knife to make a drawing on the top of the dough. Use a light touch, you just want to score it and not cut through the dough. After paint with the egg yolk/milk wash.
Bake for about 30 minutes at 375F /180C until golden.
I hope you get the opportunity to make one yourself, if not don’t despair! The next holiday is France that is coming up is la Chandeleur on February 2. See my blog post and recipe on la Chandeleur here. –> EAT: LA CHANDELEUR, FÊTE DES CRÊPES!
Ps- Side note: there is another kind of king’s cake here that they eat in the south of France. It has a brioche base.
To be honest, I’ve never tried it! I love the almond ones that we eat here in Paris and I’m usually so stuffed from eating Panettone during the Christmas season that I need a break from brioche like treats.