January in France is a buzzing and festive time of year when almost every bakery window is filled with impressive displays of la “Galette des Rois,” a traditional French pastry.
Literally translated as “Kings Cake,” this cake is traditionally eaten from January 6th at the end of the festive season. Flaky, delicate and buttery, the Galette des Rois celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, when the three wise men came to see the baby Jesus.
Tradition states that a lucky charm, such as a small coin or bean, is buried in the almond cream before the top layer of puff pastry seals the cake – and whoever’s lucky enough to find it in their slice is crowned King for the day.
2 sheets ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
100g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
25g almond flakes
1 lucky charm of your choice
1 egg yolk
1 Preheat the oven to 210C.
2 In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the softened butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, and mix.
3 Add the ground and flaked almonds, and mix well.
4 Spread out the rolled puff pastry sheets and, using a 25cm cake tin or plate as a template, cut out 2 disks.
5 Place the first disk on a lined baking sheet, and wet the edges of the pastry with a damp pastry brush.
6 Spread the almond cream mixture over the pastry, leaving a 2cm border all the way around the edge.
7 Put the lucky charm on top of the almond cream, near to the edge so that you won’t cut into it when you slice the galette.
8 Fold the second pastry disk into quarters and lift on top of the filling, unfolding to enclose the almond cream.
9 Seal the edges by pinching the disks together. With a knife, gently prick the center of the galette to help the steam escape during baking.
10 Carefully mark out a pattern of wavy lines or another design on the pastry top.
11 In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with a drop of water. Brush the egg yolk on the centre of the decorated galette – but avoid the edges as otherwise it won’t rise properly.
12 Put the galette in the oven, reduce the temperature to 180C, and bake for 35 minutes.
13 Allow the galette to cool down, then slice and serve.
14 The tradition is that the youngest guest hides under the table and chooses the recipient of each slice at random!
Recipe courtesy of Cindy Robert, pastry chef and owner of Petit Gâteau. See here for more.