Sunday, January 2, 2011

Galette des Rois (King's Cake)

Every January starting either the first Sunday (dimanche) of the month or January 6 is the Feast of the Epiphany. This date is twelve days out from Christmas (Noel). Throughout the month a traditional dessert is La Galette des Rois. This cookie or cake dates back to the 14th century.
There are two versions of this dessert. In the northern regions of France is the La Galette des Rois which is puff pastry that may or may not be filled with an almond paste (frangipane). The Provence region have a Gateau des Rois which is a brioche style cake decorated with candied fruit. Inserted inside these tasty desserts is traditionally a bean (la feve) but through time the bean evolved to tiny porcelain figures and more recently to little plastic figures. Whoever gets the piece with the hidden treasure is crowned king for the day and has the obligation to provide La Galette des Rois the next year.

Here's the recipe:

- You need two sheets of puff pastry, so you either buy two rolls or buy one roll, divide it in two and roll the two halves to make two. Take it from me, it's plain easier to get two rolls of puff pastry.
- Lay the first sheet on some non stick sheet, put the bean (in French, it's called fève) somewhere, add some almond paste (in French, it's called frangipane), and lay the second sheet (don't forget to fuse the edge with the back of a fork).
- Use a knife to make a pattern on the top and brush some egg yolk (with a bit of water and sugar, say a spoonful of each) on top.
- Put the whole thing in a 425 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.

Now, in France, not all galettes des rois have frangipane in the middle. You can certainly have a galette with nothing inside (nature) or some sugar (sucrée). These are however harder and harder to find in French bakeries. Anyways, to make a galette sucrée at home and following the instructions above, you obviously don't put the frangipane but instead, you sprinkle some sugar (about two spoonfuls) on top of the first disc. The rest of the recipe is the same.

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