On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a King’s Cake. Though Christmas may already seem like a faraway memory, the traditional 12 days of Christmas actually begin on Christmas Eve and end on January 6th with Epiphany, the day traditionally attributed to the arrival of the three wise men at the birthplace of Jesus. In many Catholic traditions, this is the day that is celebrated with gifts and parties, as opposed to the 25th. While the French celebrate Christmas, much as we do in the States, the 6th is given its own special tradition… that of the King’s Cake, or galette des Rois. Surprise your friends and family this year and make your very own King’s Cake recipe.
Those who know American King’s Cake from New Orleans may be surprised at how different French galette is. Where the Louisiana version is brightly colored, the French one is shiny with butter and filled with sweet frangipane. The fève or bean in the middle — which designates the king — may be the only similarity. In French traditions, the youngest member of the party must sit under the table as the cake is sliced. Then, as each piece is served, the person under the table calls out the name of the person to whom it should be given. The one with the fève in his piece is the king!
In France, most bakeries sell gorgeous versions of this delicious cake, but some traditionalists still make their own. The recipe is deceptively simple and, as always, when made with all-natural, organic ingredients, is even more delicious.
Galette des Rois Recipe
For the frangipane
80 grams (a heaping 1/3 cup) butter
80 grams (a scant 2/3 cup) powdered sugar
80 grams (a heaping 3/4 cup) almond flour
For the galette
Prepare a baking sheet or metal tart pan by covering the bottom with buttered parchment paper.
First, make the frangipane. Cut the butter into small pieces. Break the egg into a large mixing bowl, and add the butter and the sugar. Whisk until smooth. Add the almond flour and mix to combine.
You will need two rounds of puff pastry. Depending on how yours is packaged, you will accomplish this either by simply rolling out the pre-purchased rounds or by rolling out packaged rectangles and cutting them to size. Whichever method you choose, roll the pastry to about 1/10 of an inch thick.
Place one of the pastry rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Beat the other egg and use a pastry brush to brush the round with egg. Reserve the extra egg wash. Spread the frangipane over the pastry round, and place the fève a couple of inches from the edge.
Place the other round of dough on top of the frangipane, and seal the edges well. With a small paring knife, lightly trace parallel lines along the entire top, cross-hatching them to make parallelograms. Let the tart rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Use the rest of the egg wash to cover the top of the galette. Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 390 F. Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the pastry has puffed. Serve hot or warm.