Years ago, spending one of my Christmas breaks in Paris with Yacine, the French boy, we had une galette des rois (what we call a king’s cake in English). An almond filling (frangipane, I’ve learned it’s called) baked in between layers of puff pastry… there are few things better on earth than this! (This is not to be confused with the king’s cake of Mardi Gras which is different from this “king’s cake” in how they are prepared and taste, though similar in tradition).
That winter in Paris, I ate my first galette, having never even heard of them before, and was hooked. I even saved the little figurine that came with this first galette.
It is supposed to be a woman, but I swear she looks like a drag queen. It always throws me off.
And now years later, it has become a tradition where during the holidays I make one, trying to recreate this special memory. While I have made a few galettes over the years, this is the first year I did a little research behind it (as with everything I do, I must learn something new!). I didn’t understand why king’s cakes were eaten during this time of year in France.
So here’s what I learned:
In France, galette des Rois are eating to celebrate Epiphany…
Now being the atheist that I am, I frankly had to google this religious holiday… For those of you as ignorant as me (or my Jewish or Muslim friends out there) Epiphany falls on Janurary 6th (today!) and celebrates Christ revealing himself to the world as God’s son (apparently, this is where he turned water into wine?) Honestly, my knowledge of anything religious is nonexistent and not a lot of this made sense. BUT, another thing I learned is that Epiphany falls on the 12th day after Christmas — I always thought “the 12 days of Christmas” referred to the twelve days before, but no! This makes a lot more sense now! But I digress!
Finally, king’s cakes have a hidden bean or figurine inside and whoever finds it is said to be “king” for the day. I read that whoever finds the figurine in many workplaces must be bought lunch once a month until the next year… That sounds like a bit much!
Adapted from All Recipes
¼ cup almond paste
¼ cup white sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
Place the almond paste into a food processor or blender with about half of the sugar, and process until well blended.
Add the butter and remaining sugar using and process until smooth, then blend in 1 egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, flour and salt. Set aside.
This time around I decided to make individual galettes in puff pastry shells, which come pre-packaged.
Per the instructions, I baked them on a parchment lined sheet for 10 minutes. Once the tops were raised, I remove them and filled the shells (add the bean or figurine at this point), baking for another 10 to 15 minutes until the almond filling was set.
*If using puff pastry sheets, either cut into a circle or keep as a rectangle. Mound the filling on top of one layer, add the bean or figurine, and place the second sheet on top. Press down the edges to seal. Beat an egg and lightly brush onto the top of the galette. Prick small slits into the top. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven dust with confectioners’ sugar. Return to oven and cook an additional 12 to 15 minutes.
- ¼ cup almond paste
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp confectioners' sugar for dusting
- puff pastry
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
- Place the almond paste into a food processor or blender with about half of the sugar, and process until well blended.
- Add the butter and remaining sugar using and process until smooth, then blend in 1 egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, flour and salt. Set aside.
- Per the instructions, I baked the puff pastry shells on a parchment lined sheet for 10 minutes. Once the tops were raised, I remove them and filled the shells (add the bean or figurine at this point), baking for another 10 to 15 minutes until the almond filling was set.