Today, January 6th is the feast of Epiphany, celebrating the arrival in Bethlehem of the Three Kings on their visit to the baby Jesus. The Kings give their name to the delicous treat that is widely eaten in France to celebrate this day – la Galette des Rois or le Gâteau des Rois. I was first introduced to this lovely tradition when I was living in France but just because you don’t live in France, doesn’t mean you can’t indulge on this special day too!
There are two different types of king cake: perhaps the most well-known is the galette des rois, a flaky pastry “cake” filled with frangipane, a mix of almond cream and crème pâtissière, baked until puffy and golden then topped off with a paper crown. Inside the galette, a small trinket or figurine – the fève – is hidden and the person who finds that in their slice will wear the crown and be king or queen for the day. In southern parts of France, the cake (called a gâteau des rois) is a brioche ring studded with dried candied fruits – it also contains the fève.
On the day of Epiphany, to make the fève-finding fair, the youngest child present at the gathering will hide under the table and tell the person cutting the galette who should receive each slice. The fève itself can be a religious figurine (typically, traditionally it was a Nativity figure) but these days it’s more likely to be something a little more modern (recently in France, I saw Barbapapa fèves!) and indeed fèves have become sought-after as collectibles.
Today I’m sharing the easy version of the recipe from In the French kitchen with kids so you can make your own Galette using store-bought puff pastry. I have an easy recipe for “rough puff” pastry in the book as well if you’re interested in trying that out, but honestly, if you’re not game, there is some excellent store-bought puff pastry around that does the trick (look for “all butter!).
for the almond cream
- 1/2 cup (113 g, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (100 g) almond meal
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
for the pastry
- 2 rolls store-bought puff pastry (1 lb/454 g), thawed but chilled
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
- 1 tablespoon heavy (35%) cream
- 1 dried bean or fève
- 1 paper crown
Make the almond cream:
1. Using handheld electric beaters on high speed, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Your mixture may look a little curdled, but that’s okay.
3. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the almond meal and salt until you have a smooth paste. It will be quite stiff.
4. Cover the almond mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
Prepare the pastry:
1. Roll out the pastry and cut two circles (10 inches/25 cm in diameter). Place them, separated and sandwiched by parchment paper, on a baking tray in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
Assemble the galette:
1. Whisk the egg and the cream together to make your egg wash. Remove one pastry circle from the fridge and place it on a baking tray. Peel off the top layer of parchment, leaving the bottom parchment in place.
2. Spread the almond cream in the center of one pastry circle, leaving a border of about 1 inch (2.5 cm) around the edge. Place the dried bean or fève in the almond cream so that it’s completely covered. You can use an offset spatula to help spread the cream evenly over the pastry. Brush the edge of the pastry circle with the egg wash, making sure to keep the egg on the pastry and not dripping down the edges. (If you let the egg wash drip down, your puff pastry might not puff.)
3. Remove the other pastry disk from the fridge, peel it off the parchment and carefully place it on top of the almond cream, lining up the edges of both pastry circles. Gently press the edges down on both the egg-washed border and the almond cream with your hands, then use your fingertips (or the tines of a fork) to lightly press around the edges of the galette to seal it.
4. Use the back of a small, sharp knife to score a pattern on top of the pastry. You can make a grid pattern or a sun pattern. For the sun, start from the centre of the galette and trace a slightly curved line to the very edge of the pastry. Do not cut through the pastry. Turn the galette slightly clockwise and repeat, until you have scored the top of the galette all over. Brush the top of the galette with more egg wash, making sure it doesn’t drip down the sides.
5. Place the baking tray with the galette in the fridge for 30 minutes. and meanwhile preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C).
7. Remove the galette from the fridge, brush it one more time with egg wash, then bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.
8. Place the galette on a wire rack and allow it to come to room temperature before serving topped with a paper crown!
Adapted from from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.
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