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Galette des rois (French Epiphany cake) recipe

Galette des rois (French Epiphany cake) recipe

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  • Cake

I add a little bit of fresh root ginger to this traditional French puff pastry cake with frangipane filling. It is served for Epiphany on January 6.

2 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 1 cake

  • 300g ready rolled puff pastry
  • 3 eggs
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 70g melted butter
  • 1 small handful flaked almonds
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2cm fresh root ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 dried broad bean

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:36min ›Ready in:51min

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Butter a cake tin or line with greaseproof paper. Roll out the puff pastry to fit the tin. Set the remaining puff pastry to one side at room temperature.
  2. Separate the eggs. In a bowl beat 3 egg whites and 2 yolks with the sugar, then stir in the ground almonds. Add the melted butter and mix well to combine. Add the almond flakes, almond extract and ginger. Tip the mixture into the cake tin and bury the bean in it. Do not worry if the filling seems scarce, it will increase in volume when baked.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the remaining puff pastry to a square a little longer than the diameter of your cake tin. Cut out 10 strips about 1cm wide. wide. Place the strips on the filling in a grid pattern, 5 strips in one direction and 5 in the other. Gently press the ends into the edge of the pastry to seal.
  4. Carefully roll the overhanging pastry edge and strips towards the inside. Brush the grid and the rolled up edge with egg yolk.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven till golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.

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Galette des rois (French king cake)

In January, most bakeries in France will have this in their window: galette des rois, the traditional dessert for Epiphany. This simple tart is easy to make at home, with crisp puff pastry and a delicious almond filling. You'll want to enjoy it more than once a year.

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I've yet to be in France for Epiphany, but I remember it well in Spain. Some friends said it was in many ways bigger than Christmas itself, with street processions, cake and gifts for kids. The parades were certainly fun to watch and kids loved collecting the candies thrown to the crowd.

From what I have heard, it's not necessarily a huge celebration in France, but it has one major tradition: enjoying a galette des rois.

In Our Grandmothers' Kitchens

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 at 4:00 am and is filed under Cakes, Pies, and Pastry, Holiday Foods. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “The Last Gasp of Christmas”

Oh my, that looks (and sounds) absolutely heavenly (and certainly worth a sabbatical from healthy eating for the day). I’m not so sure I would even get six servings from Marty’s galette ).

It’s always good to be reassured that Marty is still baking in West County!

There are those of us who’ve already taken down the Christmas folderol and are exhausted by the litany of celebrations and required references and symbols – the Saints Days in early December (Lucia, Nicholas and others) herald the oncoming season and the minutiae of allusions. So I’m going to suggest that the Three Kings Cake revert to being a Pithivier and let’s leave it at that. The Pithivier was known as the “cake of kings” and I assumed the kings in question were the legions of male heirs named Louis, Henri or Charles, not Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchior. On the other hand there is an aspect of the Pithiviers, long associated with the village from whence its name comes, and that is that Pithiviers was the location of a concentration camp during the last World War, and it was there that children and parents were separated and sent to other camps in Germany and France. Perhaps it is unfair to associate this unfortunate aspect of history with the pastry – it is, after all, merely coincidence – but the memory leavens one’s relishing the taste. But is it such a bad thing to be reminded that all is not sweetness and light? At any rate you’ve employed the term galette, and perhaps that is a fine compromise.

You are right, Raoul, in asserting that a Galette des Rois is precisely a Pithivier, the only difference being, I believe, its relation to Epiphany (there’s no prize in a typical Pithivier). But I never tire of the Christmas folderol so I’m sticking to my terminology!

As it turns out there is a prize in certain Pithiviers: Trader Joe’s carry a frozen Pithiviers, that is easily baked, affordable, elegant and quite good. To have a Pithivier available year-round is itself quite a prize! Perhaps the galette can be relegated to the realm of dance: the ballerina performed a series of grands jetés before the ensemble began its galette triomphante.

Thank you , Tinky, for printing this lovely article and the beautiful photos of Chef Marty and his sunny Three Kings Cake. They came from the class he did at Our Lady of Czestochowa on Sunday. Yes, there was indeed a lucky winner of the sacred prize inside….and we brought along a paper crown that she graciously agreed to wear for the rest of the class. The prize in past days of three kings cakedom was a bean, a tiny ceramic crown, and a tiny ceramic baby Jesus.

In our litigious climate of the 21st century, Marty only uses an organic raw almond …. we don’t want any cracked teeth to spoil the day!

He will be doing other puff-pastry classes at our little classroom in Shelburne Falls. The folks at Our Lady of Czestochowa asked that he come back and do a class on the various ways to use that puff pastry dough, both savory and sweet. Will let you know when that one comes up.

In the meantime…recuperating from gorging on the galette will happen soon enough….when Marty makes up for it with his Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup class on January 17th. :–)

Your blog is fantastic, Tinky! I hope you win the contest. I have a spare crown left from the class …with your name on it!

I’m not much of a baker, except for bread. I think I’ll wait and see how yours works out. But, this really does sound lovely. Puff pastry has always been daunting for me (so I buy it already made in the freezer section). I didn’t think I was bad over the holiday, until I tried to zip up my slacks this morning. Yipes! I think the Chinese Herbal Chicken Soup might be just right.

Oh, and do you remember Julia Child’s episode on Pithivier?

I missed Julia’s Pithivier episode–which I know I would have enjoyed! With luck, I’ll get through with Marty’s guidance. We’ll all find out……

You have my sympathy with the slacks, Grad. I’m in the same boat……..

Puff pastry is the one thing I have inconsistent performance with. But I have a son who loves almond anything starting with marzipan and running the gamut to almond buttercream frosted chocolate cup cakes! So I suppose I will have to try this.

Have an Epiphany over this French dessert

For many families in continental Europe, Christmas ends not with an intense food coma at around 5 pm on December 25, but with a feast and a special celebration on January 6, a Christian holiday known as the Epiphany. Also called Little Christmas or, more commonly Three Kings Day, January 6 is a time for feasting and finally taking down those Christmas decorations (unless you’re planning on leaving them up until March, of course).

In France, the Epiphany has come to be associated with a very special dessert – galette des rois, known in English as Epiphany cake or the cake of kings. It’s basically everything you want in a Christmas dessert: a flaky puff pastry cake filled with frangipane and – if made correctly – a special charm, or la fève, hidden deep inside a slice. Whoever ends up with la fève is king or queen for a day (each cake comes with a paper crown), provided they haven’t broken a tooth, that is.

In Northern France and Belgium, Epiphany cake takes on the form of a galette – a round, flat free-form cake in the south, the south-west and Provence it’s called the gâteau des rois, and resembles a round brioche cake. In New Orleans, Louisiana-style king cakes are a delicious symbol of the Carnival season, eaten in abundance to celebrate the Mardi Gras. What started as a Christian tradition has become an intercontinental early January phenomenon.

The Epiphany cake tradition dates back hundreds of years, when the charm was a dried broad bean and traditionally the youngest person – the most innocent and the least likely to cheat – would hide under the table and, unable to see the cake, would give directions on which person should receive each slice (so the prize would be awarded fairly).

It’s basically everything you want in a Christmas dessert: a flaky puff pastry cake filled with frangipane and – if made correctly – a special charm, or la fève, hidden deep inside a slice.

Fast forward 700 years, and galette des rois has mostly moved away from its religious roots, both in France and abroad in countries like Australia.

“These days it doesn’t have anything to with Christianity necessarily,” says Dominique Le Breton from Le Breton Pâtisserie in Sydney's Mosman. “Everybody’s enjoying it, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with the Biblical story of the Three Wise Men.”

Le Breton, who starts baking galette des rois just before Christmas each year, has noticed a rise in popularity among Australians over recent years. He puts it down to the moist frangipane and the overall flavour: “It’s a really nice thing to have with a glass of champagne,” he says.

Enough said – for French people AND Australians.

The chef still hides a charm in his galette - but they’re a far cry from dried broad beans. Made from porcelain and more recently plastic, the trinket can take on any form – shoes, cars, baby figurines, fruit, rings, buttons, thimbles, the list goes on.

Sniff our your nearest traditional French patisserie next January for a slice of Epiphany cake – you might not win a charm and be crowned king or queen for the day, but you’ll certainly win the party.

Now let’s continue with my top 6 tips regarding the technique and equipment of making this Galette des Rois recipe

1. How to make puff pastry

I am not going to lie, preparing puff pastry requires patience, attention to details, practise and time.

But! There is nothing more rewarding than watching your hand laminated pastry puffing up in the oven then taking the first bite of that beautiful, hand made, flaky pastry! You have everything here at once place about home made puff pastry, so look no further!

The single most important factor while making puff pastry is TEMPERATURE! The common reason people fail in puff pastry is being inpatient and forcing the dough even when its temperature is inappropriate, either to cold or too warm. Baking is science and in general temperature is one of the most important factors to understand AND utilise for our benefit. When I say temperature I don’t purely mean baking temperature but also the environment we work e.g kitchen temperature as well as the dough temperature.

While making puff pastry, temperature is everything! If the dough is too hot, it gets sticky, the butter starts to melt and can’t be rolled out or shaped without making a mess. If too cold, it will easily break. The entire puff pastry making process is a balancing exercise between keeping the dough cold enough but not too cold.

To give you a concrete example, in a home kitchen environment this practically means taking the dough in and out of the fridge about 10 times in between steps to ensure the dough is always on the right temperature to work with. Yes, not just to chill once or twice but to be in control of the dough temperature all the time! It is winter now in Sweden so I had even the kitchen window open and cooled the kitchen temp below 18C / 64F. Keeping that dough on the right temp also means that you have to work fast, there is no time to wonder around once the dough is out of the fridge. Obviously in professional kitchens temperature as well as humidity is under control and the laminating process is done by a machine, however in home environment this is something we have to be super careful with.

Puff pastry after 6 folds

So how to make puff pastry?

Making puff pastry can take days, however in this recipe I managed to make the whole process in 24hours.

Day 1 prepare the dough and the butter block, this is very easy and quick then Day 2 you will probably spend a few hours in the morning laminating/folding the dough and by the evening you will have your delicious Galette des Rois on the table! How does that sound?

Preparing the dough for the puff pastry is a rather simple process.

  1. Measure water and place it into the freezer to chill it
  2. Prepare your Stand mixer with the hook attachment and mix high protein content flour with salt
  3. Melt butter and once butter is not too hot mix with white vinegar
  4. Pour melted butter (not hot!) & vinegar mixture into the flour
  5. Start kneading the mixture in the Stand mixer with the hook attachment on the lowest speed, mix for a minute
  6. Start adding the very cold water, a small amount at a time. Once all water is added knead the dough in the Stand mixer for another minute
  7. Using your hand gently knead the dough for another minute just until it becomes smooth. Do not over work the dough
  8. Wrap the dough into a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight

Preparing the butter block

  1. For the butter block use either an appropriate size (20x20cm / 8inch) sandwich bag or fold parchment paper into 20x20cm / 8inch
  2. Slice butter and place into the sandwich bag / folded parchment paper and with the help of a rolling pin prepare the butter block that is even in thickness
  3. Place butter block into the fridge to chill

The No.1 tip I can give is to use a Silicone baking mat throughout the process. It has 3 major benefits

  • dough less likely to stick and no need to use extra flour
  • it will also act like a measuring tool, you can easily see how far you have to roll the dough to achieve the ideal size
  • it also helps when it comes to folding, you will literally fold the dough with the help of the Silicone baking mat that prevents the dough from the warmth of your hands

Start with placing the butter block into the dough

  1. Take the butter out of the fridge. We want to wait for the perfect moment when the butter block is cold enough but not too cold, this is the exact moment you have to work with the butter. You can easily test the butter: look for the consistency when you can slightly bend the butter block without breaking it.
  2. Start rolling the dough into 25x45cm / 10x18inch, that is 2x bigger (plus some extra) than the size of the butter
  3. When the butter reaches the perfect temperature place butter block onto the bottom part of dough, fold dough over the butter block and carefully seal all 4 sides
  4. If the dough is still cold enough start the folding process as per below, if not, place it into the fridge for 15 minutes

look for the consistency when you can slightly bend the butter block without breaking it.

When the butter reaches the perfect temperature place butter block onto the bottom part of dough

fold dough over the butter block and carefully seal all 4 sides

The folding process will follow as per below:

  1. Roll dough into 25x45cm / 10x18inch
  2. Fold top third into the middle
  3. Fold bottom third into the middle
  4. You will get an envelope shape that has an “open edge” on the top and “closed edge” on the bottom
  5. Rotate by 90 degrees to the right so you will get the “open edge” on the right and “closed edge” on left
  6. Your 1st fold is done, congratulations! Place the dough into the fridge for 15-20min

Roll dough into 25x45cm / 10x18inch

Fold top third into the middle

Fold bottom third into the middle

You get an envelope shape dough

Rotate by 90 degrees to the right so you will get the “open edge” on the right

Repeat the process above 6 times!

Please note that it is important to start rolling the dough in a position you have finished earlier so “open edge” on the right and “closed edge” on the left. I prepared a cheat sheet for you so you can easy follow the steps and count the fold etc.

After the final fold roll the dough 2x as high as width so eg. 17x34cm / 7*14 inch and cut the dough horizontally into 2. You will get two square shape dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for minimum 4 hours before using.

Remember, during the process we want to avoid the dough breaking and butter leaking out at all cost! When it comes to laminating puff pastry, temperature is everything. It is better to take the dough in and out of the fridge a 100 times than forcing a warm dough that will leak the butter out and your 24 hour work is ruined. Work as quickly as possible, ideally one round of rolling & folding should not take more than a minute.

2. How to make frangipane filling for Galette des Rois

What is frangipane? Frangipane is basically an almond based cream used in various pastries (check my Fig Frangipane Tart recipe in here). Enhanced with just a hint of vanilla bean (and optionally rum) frangipane is a velvety almond cream that adds delicious richness and texture to desserts. The cream has a nutty, sweet taste that makes it the perfect filling for this Galette des Rois.

Preparing the frangipane filling is super easily and quickly. Make sure that all the ingredients are on room temp then mix all ingredients together with an electric hand mixer until cream slightly increases in volume and becomes fluffy. Move cream into a piping bag and let it set in the fridge for an hour before using.

3. How to assemble the Galette des Rois

Assembling the pastry is super easy if you have done the previous steps correctly. Two things you have to be careful with 1. temperature as always, do not force the dough if you come this far! and 2. Sealing the top and bottom part properly. This is super crucial in order to avoid almond cream leaking all over the baking tray while baking. Watch out below for the tip I have for sealing!

So after minimum 4 hours chilling time, on a clean parchment paper roll out one of the puff pastry disks and cut out a 22 cm / 8.5inch circle. This will be the bottom of the Galette des Rois. If the dough stays nice and cool, continue by piping the almond cream on top, if not, first place it into the fridge for 15 minutes. When piping the almond cream make sure you 1. pipe as evenly as possible 2. leave min. 2,5 cm / 1 inch around the edge. While it is tempting to have as much filling as possible in the Galette des Rois, the risk is that you won´t be able to seal the top and bottom properly and all the filling will end up in the tray while baking.

Once you piped the frangipane filling onto the bottom part of the puff pastry, place it into the fridge for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, take the other pastry disk out of the fridge, roll it out and cut out a circle that is just slightly bigger than the bottom eg. 23cm / 9 inch, this will be the top of the pastry. (You will need a slightly bigger circle for the top as it will cover the filling). Place the top circle also into the fridge to chill.

After 30 minutes, take both the bottom part of the pastry and also the top circle and using your hand carefully but firmly seal the two parts together.

Tip: carefully apply a small amount of very cold water around the edge on the bottom part of the pastry – this will help to seal the pastry when placing the other circle on top.

carefully apply a small amount of very cold water around the edge on the bottom part of the pastry – this will help to seal the pastry when placing the other circle on top.

carefully but firmly seal the two parts together.

4. How to get shiny top on Galette des Rois

The secret is applying egg wash twice using egg yolk + splash of cream! Easy peasy.

After the top and bottom part of the pastry sealed together, apply your first egg wash then place the pastry into the fridge again for another 30-60 minutes before decorating. After the chilling time, apply your second egg wash then now onto decoration.

5. How to decorate Galette des Rois

If you are familiar with sourdough baking probably you are well aware of how to draw appealing decoration on top of the pastry, if not, go easy! You can use the back of the knife and mark curve lines in the pastry starting at the center and working to the outside. One important note is that make sure you do not cut the pastry!

For the edge, use a fork to flute all around.

For the last time, chill the pastry in the fridge while pre-heating your oven.

6. How to bake Galette des Rois

Puff pastries are typically baked in relatively high temp. In regards to this Galette des Rois recipe I suggest to start at 190C / 374F then after 20 minutes decrease oven temp to 170C / 338F and bake for another 20 minutes. Starting with high oven temp encourages the pastry to puff then on lower temp it will get well baked throughout. If you are doing it the first time, you have to watch how the pastry behaves in your oven and adjust the temp accordingly. If too much browning for example, you can either cover it with a aluminium foil or decrease oven temp. Also make sure that the pastry is well baked (check the bottom) before taking it out of the oven. The top should be shiny and slightly darken than the side.

La Galette des Rois: A French Tradition for Epiphany

The French have been serving up the galette des rois since the 14th-century. Traditionally, it’s served on January 6th (the 12th day of Christmas) to celebrate the Epiphany. This religious feast day commemorates the arrival of the Three Kings to the manger where Jesus was born. Nowadays, the French eat the galette des rois on the first Sunday of January and throughout the month of January. It’s simply a festive way to celebrate the new year with family and friends, regardless of religious background.

The French galette des rois have various shapes and flavors depending on the region and local traditions. Indeed, in northern France, the galette is made of pâte feuilleté (puff pastry) and stuffed with a dense, creamy almond paste called frangipane. In the south of France, the galette is a brioche-style cake with candied fruit. And in the Alps, the galette is a generous brioche with huge pink pralines.

Whatever the shape and flavor, the galette des rois always come with a golden paper crown and a hidden trinket (a fève) made of porcelain or plastic. During the slicing of the galette, the youngest child should slip underneath the table to call out the name of the person to receive each slice. So, the server can’t be accused of playing favorites. The entire cake should be divided such that each guest receives a slice. And the lucky guest who finds the fève in their serving becomes le Roi or la Reine and gets to wear the golden crown.

The Traditional French Croque Monsieur Recipe

Just before the degustation, make sure to warn everyone about the fève hidden in the galette. If you’re making this cake for children, consider leaving out the fève altogether.

La Galette des Rois, a Cake Fit For a King!

The plate is set before me, the aroma of warm pastry and almonds whirls up around my head. I inhale deeply and breath in all the goodness, the scent of cozy winter afternoons in front of a roaring fire, snowy days bundled up under a thick blanket, dog at my feet, a mug of hot tea in my hand and this delicacy, this thing of beauty placed before me. Layer upon layer of flaky golden pastry, its sugary, buttery flakes cradling a rich, rum-kissed almond cream in which hides a very special prize. And like all great French fashion, it comes with the perfect accessory: a golden crown.

Many of us are winding up the Christmas season by packing up the decorations, taking down the colored lights and disposing of the tree. The last of the turkey or ham has been sandwiched between bread and eaten, the fruitcake and Panettone, the cookies and the Stollen all devoured. The gifts have all been opened and enjoyed and the last card has been stamped, sealed and sent. Now we approach the 6th day of January, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the Epiphany, Three Kings' Day, the day, as the story goes, on which the Three Magi arrived in Bethlehem and carried gifts to the baby Jesus. To celebrate the occasion, the French fete this joyous occasion with a very special pastry, la Galette des Rois, The Kings' Cake.

We all know that many well-known and loved symbols and traditions of Christmas are originally of pagan origin: the decorated tree, mistletoe, the Yule log among others. In fact, during the early years of the religion, the Christmas festivities were actually pushed up to the end of the year to coincide with the Winter Solstice and thus overlapped the pagan Saturnalia, a most popular Roman celebration marked by rambunctious behavior, overall silliness and fun and games, somewhat more joyous than the traditionally solemn Christian celebrations. Little by little, the Christians absorbed some of the practices that highlighted these non-religious pagan festivities. It is thought that originally the day of Jesus' birth, celebrated on December 25, was reserved for strictly religious observance while the Epiphany, January 6 was a day of celebration, the day of giving and receiving gifts, a day in which some of the less than religious practices were merged with the gift-giving of the Magi.

In France, this day, January 6, the Epiphany, is known as Le Jour des Rois, Kings' Day. And in France, this day is feted by the eating of La Galette des Rois, the Kings' Cake. This special cake of pâte feuilletée, puff pastry, filled with almond cream, frangipane, wasn't always reserved for this day, but was eaten on most festive occasions when frivolity was called for. Little by little it found it's way to representing the Epiphany and Kings' Day. But did this grow out of the story of the Magi, the cake representing the Three Kings and their gifts or did it come from the Saturnalia celebrations whose parties were characterized by the tradition of the reversal of social roles in which the king became servant and the servant became king? Either way, tradition has it that a lucky charm, originally a small fève or bean is buried in the almond cream before the top layer of puff pastry is placed atop the cake and then baked. When the cake is served, the youngest child of the party scoots underneath the table where he cannot see what is happening above and as the cake is sliced the child shouts out the name of the recipient of each piece. Why? Because whoever finds the bean in his slice of Galette is named King for the Day, the accompanying paper crown perched atop his or her head. And what is the role of the king, you ask? Why, to offer the guests another Galette! It's a day of indulgence, frivolity and merry-making!

Our tiny collection of charms.

Legend has it that for quite a while the King, the person who had discovered the bean in his slice of cake, was obliged to buy a round of drinks for everyone in the room. But those who were too stingy to pay would often just swallow the bean with the cake to avoid being named, so somewhere during the 19th century the bean was replaced with a tiny ceramic charm, less easily swallowed, sometimes representing a religious figure but, more often than not, simply a tiny decorative charm, simple or fancy. Collecting these charms soon became a craze and people today are known to search far and wide and spend crazy sums of money buying special charms for their collections.

Beginning just after the New Year, glass cases in every French pastry shop are lined with Galettes des Rois, filled not only with the traditional almond cream but with chocolate or fruit fillings as well. Every year I buy one or two over the course of the week or two of their short-lived appearance and we all enjoy these wonderful, rich confections. But this year, I have decided to make my own! It starts with homemade puff pastry, easy to make although rather time consuming, or store bought if you like, and then simply filled with a luscious filling of ground almonds, softened butter, sugar and an egg and flavored with rum and vanilla, whipped together in the flash of an eye. And a fève of course, tucked inside for one lucky King.

Enjoy it, for the season is short.


I referred to Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for quantities and procedure and then adapted to my own taste.

About 1 - 1 ½ lbs (500 g) puff pastry or two store-bought rounds *
2 ½ oz (70 g) sugar
2 oz (60 g) unsalted butter softened to room temperature
1 large egg
2 ½ oz (70 g) ground almonds
¼ tsp vanilla
1 Tbs rum
Egg wash (1 yolk whisked with 1 tsp cold water)
Icing/powdered sugar for generously dusting the top of the Galette for the "crust".

* I followed this recipe which yields slightly over 2 ½ lbs (1 kg) dough and I used a tad more than half of the prepared dough.

Prepare the Frangipane filling:
Beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Beat in the egg, the ground almonds, the vanilla and the rum. Add more vanilla or rum to taste, if desired. Place the filling in a small bowl covered with plastic wrap or in a lidded plastic container and refrigerate until ready to use. It needs to firm up before assembly the cake.

To prepare the Galette des Rois:
Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of ½ inch (1 cm) and not less than 3/8 inch, long and wide enough to cut out two 8 or 8 ½-inch (21 cm) discs. Using a cake tin or plate of about 8- or 8 ½-inches (21 cm) diameter and using a very sharp knife, trace and cut out two discs. Place each disc carefully on parchement-lined baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Stack remaining dough (don't mash together into a ball as you would other dough), wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for another use.

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

Remove prepared rounds of puff pastry. Choose one to be the bottom of the cake a gently press with your fingers the edges out a bit to enlarge the circle slightly. Remove the chilled almond cream from the fridge and mound in the center of the bottom disc of dough. Press it flat and out, using the back of a soup spoon, leaving about 1 ½ inches (4 cm) border of dough free around the edges. Press a fève, a ceramic charm of some sort, or even an old-fashioned dried bean or a coin into the almond cream.

Paint this wide edge of the dough around the almond filling with the egg wash. Gently place the second disc of dough on top of the filling placing the top and bottom discs edge to edge (so the edges meet all the way around). Press to seal.

Place a bowl upside down on top of the discs - the bowl should come up to ½ to 1 inch from the edges. Using a sharp knife held perpendicular to the table, cut into the dough to create a scalloped edge to the cake. Now carefully carve a design into the top of the cake. Cut a small circle in the center of the top dough disc and insert a chimney (make a chimney out of parchment or foil or, as I did, use an upside down aluminum pastry bag tip).

Brush the top of the dough with egg wash. Place in the hot oven and bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown. If you think the pastry is browning too quickly, simply lay a piece of foil over the top.

Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C) and continue baking for an additional 25 to 30 minutes until the sides of the pastry are also golden and crisp.

Remove the Galette from the oven and move the rack up one notch. Generously dust the entire top surface of the Galette with powdered sugar then place the pastry back in the oven. Now bake for around 5 minutes until the sugar has turned to a golden and very shiny glaze. Stand next to your oven and watch because (as you can see from mine) it turns to the perfect glaze very quickly then in the flash of an eye burns! You must watch so you can pull it out of the oven just as the last of the top turns a gorgeous golden and not leave it one second longer.

Allow to cool a bit. Serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature. Make sure there is a child under the table while the host slices and then passes each slice as the child calls out whom to serve. Have a paper crown ready to crown the King who finds the charm! And let the merrymaking begin!

Jamie Schler lives, eats and writes in France. To read more of her work visit Life's a Feast.

A Little History of the Galette des Rois

King’s Cake has been around since the Middle Ages and is part of the 12 days of Christmas which was usually celebrated from about Christmas Eve to about January 5th. Traditionally, King’s Cake season started on January 6th and went until Fat Tuesday, which falls any time between February 3rd and March 9th.

January 6th is a holiday, celebrated mostly by Catholics, called Epiphany commemorating the presentation of Christ to the gentiles in the form of the 3 kings. Also known as 3 Kings Day. It’s the most traditional day on which the Kings Cakes or Galettes are eaten. If you’re interested, you can find out more about the history of Kings Cakes and all the different versions available.

These days you’ll find Kings Cakes in French bakeries starting about mid-December through mid-January. But you don’t need a French bakery. You can easily make your own!

They’re super simple and absolutely delicious and if you bring this baby to a get-together you’ll be overwhelmed by guests asking what it’s called and how they can get one.


For the Puff pastry dough (this should be done the day before):

140g bread flour (plus more as needed for dusting)

56g unsalted butter, softened

112g unsalted butter, softened

1. Combine the bread flour, salt, vinegar, cold water, and butter in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed until just blended, about 2½ minutes. The dough should look rough—there’s been no gluten development at this stage.

2. Dust the work surface with extra bread flour. With your hands, shape the dough into a 4-inch square about ⅜ inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

1. Combine the all-purpose flour and butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on low speed, until there are no streaks of butter. The mixture should still feel like soft butter.

2. Draw a 7-inch square on a piece of parchment paper with a pencil. Flip the parchment over so that the butter won’t come in contact with the pencil marks. Place the butter in the centre of the square and spread it evenly with an offset spatula to fill the square. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes, until firm but still pliable.

3. Remove the butter from the refrigerator. It should still be soft enough to bend slightly without cracking. If it is too firm, lightly beat the butter with a rolling pin on a lightly floured work surface until it becomes pliable. Make sure to press the butter back to its original 7-inch square after working it.

4. Arrange the chilled dough in the centre of the butter block so it looks like a diamond in the centre of the square (rotated 45 degrees, with the corners of the dough facing the centre of the butter block sides).

5. Fold the corners of the butter block up and over to the centre of the dough. The butter block should completely cover the dough. Pinch the seams of the butter block together to prevent the dough from peeking through.

Whenever folding butter, it is important to work swiftly to ensure it doesn’t melt.

1. Generously flour the work surface and rolling pin. You’ll need a rather large work surface for this task. With the rolling pin, using steady, even pressure, roll the butter-covered dough out from the centre so it triples in length. When finished rolling, you should have a rectangle about 12 by 6½ by ¼ inch.

2. Place the dough so the longer sides run left to right. From the right side, fold one-third of the dough onto itself, keeping the edges lined up with each other. From the left side, fold one-third of the dough on top of the side that has already been folded. Line up all the edges so that you are left with an even rectangle. The dough is being folded as if it were a piece of paper going into an envelope this is called a “letter fold.” Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes to rest.

Make Second and Third Folds:

1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. It should be firm but not hard. Place on a lightly floured work surface. With a rolling pin, using steady, even pressure, roll the dough out from the centre vertically from top to bottom. The dough should triple in length and increase in width 1½ times this will take several passes. When finished, you should again have a rectangle about 12 by 6 ½.

2. Rotate the dough so the longer sides run left to right. This time, from the right side fold one-quarter of the dough onto itself. From the left side fold one-quarter of the dough onto itself. The two ends should meet in the middle of the dough. Fold the dough in half where the ends meet. You will have 4 layers of dough on top of one another. This is called a “double book fold.” Wrap the dough again in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes to rest.

3. Repeat the second (double book) fold again. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When rolling out the dough, it’s always best to have the open seams on the top to ensure the layers remain even and don’t slide when you are rolling.

For the almond Frangipane:

38g unsalted butter, softened

158g unsalted butter, softened

Make the Pastry Cream:

1. Heat milk in a medium pot over medium heat until it reaches 65°C. Remove from the heat.

2. In a bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks.

3. Temper the yolks: stream in a third of the warm milk into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Stream in another third of the milk while whisking. Return the tempered yolks into the milk, whisking to combine. Return the pot to medium-low heat. Continue to cook the pastry cream, whisking constantly, until it reaches 85°C. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the butter until fully incorporated.

4. Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap pressed directly against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cooled, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Make the Almond Cream:

1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together confectioners sugar and butter on medium speed until combined. Add in a third of the almond flour and a third of the eggs and continue mixing until combined. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continuing on medium speed, adding in the second third of the almond flour and eggs until combined, then the remaining almond flour and eggs, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl in between.

2. Add rhum, mix until fully incorporated.

Make the Almond Frangipane:

1. In a large bowl, fold the pastry cream and almond cream together until combined.

2. Transfer to a piping bag. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the Galette.

Assemble the Galette des Rois

Puff pastry dough, chilled

Almond frangipane, in piping bag

Egg wash (1 egg yolk and 1 tsp milk, beaten together)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

2. Remove the puff pastry from the refrigerator. Place it on a lightly floured work surface. With a rolling pin, using steady, even pressure, roll the dough out from the center, until you have a rectangle that’s 1/8” thick. Cut out four 8-inch round discs.

3. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out two discs of puff pastry dough. Brush the edges with water. Pipe a layer of almond frangipane (just under half of the frangipane), leaving 2cm border around the edge. Place the other puff pastry discs on top and press down to seal the edges very well. Chill in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.

4. Remove the Galettes from the refrigerator. Flute the edges of the Galette. Brush the top of the Galette with egg wash. Then using a paring knife, score the top in a decorative pattern, to resemble a crown. Bake for 45 minutes, until the puff pastry if beautifully golden brown and flaky. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

Do not refrigerate the Galette, as the humidity in the refrigerator will cause the puff pastry to get soggy.

The Galette des Rois from Dominique Ansel’s bakery is available to order from December 26th to January 21st, with 48 hours advance notice, for collection at the Bakery at £30 for the whole cake.


The Epiphany, traditionally on January 6, commemorates the visit of the three Magi (Wise Men) to Baby Jesus. Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar traveled from the east, following the bright star to find the newborn Jesus. Upon arrival, they worshipped the infant Jesus, and gave him gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold.

Gold symbolizes that Jesus is King. Today, the tradition for King’s Day is to share a cake called Galette des rois. Make this outstanding French galette to celebrate the Epiphany!

The galette can be prepared differently depending which region it’s made.

In this cake is hidden a “feve” (small figure). The youngest person goes under the table and decides who will have each piece. The person who finds the small figure is crowned and will have to choose his queen or king. Serve with Champagne. HAPPY KING’S DAY!

Preparation: 1 hour baking time: 30 min.

2 packages frozen puff pastry, thawed (17.3 oz, 2 sheets each)

1 egg yolk + ½ tsp water

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

1 small figure or bean

Almond cream:

3 1/4 oz. whole blanched almonds

3 1/4 oz. Confectioner’s sugar

3 1/4 oz.unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 tbsp. sour cream

1 tbsp. dark Rum

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Flour a work surface (for best result, use a pastry cloth) and unfold the dough from the packages.

Place one sheet of dough on top of the other. Roll the dough into a large square. Place an inverted round tart pan in the middle of the dough, press lightly to make an impression in the dough and discard the dough around the tart pan. Repeat with the second package of puff pastry. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Combine almonds and Confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of a blender and process until the almonds are finely ground. Add the butter, eggs, sour cream and dark Rum. Combine until the mixture is smooth.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Prick one piece of dough with a fork. Pour the almond mixture in the center of the dough and spread it evenly with an offset spatula, leaving a 1 ½ inch border within the circle.

Place the small figure into the almond cream. Lightly brush water on dough around the almond cream. Cover with the other piece of puff pastry, lining up correctly. Press the edges firmly to seal.

Beat together the remaining egg yolk with the water and brush the top of the pastry dough, being very careful not to let any drip over the edges, as it will inhibit rising.

Using the tip of a sharp knife, make some fine incisions on top of the dough.

Place the Epiphany cake in the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking to avoid the deformation of the dough.

Bake 30 minutes. Serve warm. Sprinkle some Confectioner’s sugar on top of the galette.