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In France, it is a tradition to share the Galette des Rois (French King Cake) on Epiphany Day, which is on January 6th. It celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem.
During the entire month of January, in most bakeries and pastry shops you will find the traditional Galette des Rois. But over time bakers became more creative and developed new fillings and flavors.
The traditional Galette des Rois is made with puff pastry filled with almond cream (almonds, butter, eggs, and sugar) or with the popular “frangipane” filling (a blend of almond cream and pastry cream).
A small charm called “la fève” is hidden in the Galette des Rois and the person who finds “the fève” in his or her slice becomes king (or queen) for the day and wears a crown.
Originally the “fève” was a broad bean. Then in 1870 replaced by a porcelain figurine and more recently plastic).
In southern France, you will find a cake called “Gâteau des Rois” or “Brioche des Rois” which is a sweet bread (brioche) with candied fruits and pearl sugar. The cake’s shape and colors resemble a crown.
Galette des Rois (French King Cake) with Almond Cream
- 2 rolls of puff pastry, thawed if frozen
- 1 small charm (called "fève") If you do not have it place a fava or broad bean or a pecan half
- 1 egg (for egg wash)
For almond cream filling :
- 75 g butter (I recommend Plugra), at room temperature
- 100 g sugar
- 150 g almond powder
- 2 eggs at room temperature,
- 1 tablespoon Rum, Kirschwasser, Grand Marnier, or Cognac (optional)
- 2-4 drops of almond extract (optional)
For the syrup (shiny finished):
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon of the same alcohol you used in the filling (optional)
To make the almond filling:
- In a bowl put the softened butter and whip it until is creamy. Add the sugar and whip until well combined.
- Stir in one egg, mix well, then add the second egg and mix again. Add the almond. Combine until the cream is smooth. If you like, add the alcohol and almond extract.
- Put this almond cream in the fridge.
With the puff pastry:
- Cut out two identical circles of 24 cm (9.45 inches) in diameter.
- On a parchment paper or silicone baking mat, place one circle of the dough. Brush 1 inch of the edge of the pastry dough with water or an egg mixed with a little of water.
- Spread the almond cream over the center or use a pastry bag and begin piping in a spiral, starting with the center until you are close to the inch that you just brushed with water or egg wash.
- Put the "fève" in the almond cream in a vertical position close to the edge and not in the middle of the galette.
- Put the second circle of puff pastry on the top of almond cream and gently try to remove all the air between the filling and the dough with your hand. Then firmly press your fingers all around the circle to be sure that the edge is well-sealed.
- With a knife gently score all the galette's edges (do not use the sharp part of your knife, turn it down and use the opposite. In this way, you do not cut the dough but just score it). This helps stick the dough together.
- If you did not use an egg to seal the dough, prepare the egg wash by mixing an egg with a little water and evenly brush the entire galette with a cooking brush. Be careful to not put egg on all the vertical side of your galette otherwise your puff pastry will not rise correctly!
- Put your galette in your fridge for at least 2 hours. The puff pastry being cold prevents leaks.
- Preheat oven at 390F.
- Take your galette from the fridge and put again egg wash so the galette will be golden when cooked.
- In the same way you use the knife to score it, draw without pressing too hard a decorative design (crossed lines, curves lines, leaves, flowers...) on the top of your galette.
- To allow steam to escape, give a few peaks with the tip of a knife or toothpick on the top of your galette to avoid the cream filling to escape.
- Put the galette in the oven for 25 to 30 min or until golden.
- Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan, stir and bring to a boil. Add a touch of alcohol if you wish, set aside.
- Remove the galette from the oven and coat the surface with the syrup you made. Then, return the galette to the oven for 2-3 minutes to give it a shiny finish.
- Let it cool down for a few minutes to enjoy a slice of galette and maybe to be the king (or queen) of the day if you get the "fève".