For every French person, the Epiphany is synonymous with the “galette des rois”, a wafer king cake which is eaten ceremoniously a few days before and after 6 January.
The “Galette des Rois” is made of flaky puff pastry layers and filled with a dense centre of frangipane. In Provence, the ‘galette’ takes the form of a ring of brioche with candied fruits on it.
Tradition has it that the youngest member of the family goes under the table to distribute the slices to the different people sitting around the table. The person who finds the lucky charm in their slice of ‘galette’ becomes the king (or queen) of the day and must choose his/her companion.
2 round sheets of puff pastry
100g caster sugar
100g good quality unsalted butter
100g ground almonds
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
50g icing sugar
1 lucky charm
- Place one sheet of puff pastry on a greased baking sheet.
- Prepare the almond mixture: soften the butter and add the sugar. Beat strongly to obtain a smooth texture. Add the ground almonds, then the 2 eggs and the vanilla extract.
- Place the almond mixture in the centre of the round-shaped pastry and spread it evenly up to 2cm away from the edge. Add the lucky charm near the edge (if you add it near the centre, it might be easily discovered when cutting the cake!).
- Cover the base with the second round-shaped pastry and make sure the two pastry sheets are stuck down together, otherwise the almond mix may slip away from the cake when cooking. You may use a little water to join the two sheets along the edges.
- Make an egg wash with the egg yolk and a little water and using a pastry brush, brush all over the top.
- With a knife, carefully trace decorative shapes (diamands, flowers or any other creative designs). Make sure you don’t press too hard in order to avoid piercing the pastry.
- Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees C and cook at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes. Our advice is to check on it regularly as we found our oven cooked it a lot quicker (25 mins).
- Mix the icing sugar with some water to make a liquid sugar syrup and spread all over the top of the galette.
- Cook the galette for a further 5 minutes at 200 degrees C to enable the sugar to cook slightly and create a shiny effect. Take out of the oven.
- Eat the cake lukewarm and enjoy the party!
Eating the “Galette des Rois” according to the French tradition
Tradition has it that, during Epiphany, the youngest member of the family goes under the table to distribute the slices to the different people sitting around the table. The person who finds the lucky charm in their slice of ‘galette’ becomes the king (or queen) of the day and must choose his/her companion. In the past, the flat cake was divided into as many slices as there were people around the table, plus one slice in case a stranger or a poor person were to come to the house. This extra portion was called the slice of God (“la part du bon Dieu”).