Saturday, January 21, 2012

Galette Des Rois (Kings Cake)

The Galette des Rois is typically a French tradition to celebrate l'Epiphanie: the day when the three kings came to pay their tribute to baby Jesus. In French those wise men go by Les Rois Mages (the Magi).

On the day of the Epiphany, families share a Galette des Rois, a flaked pastry pie filled with frangipane, a smooth buttery mixture of almond cream and pastry cream.

Some families celebrate with the Galette des Rois on the 6th and some on the first Sunday in January. But it's mostly considered fine to celebrate it all through the month of January, which is why I am celebrating now.

Another fun thing about the Galette des Rois, apart from how delicious a warm buttery almond pastry tastes on a rainy morning, is the traditional game that goes with it. Because hidden inside the Galette is a small little trinket or dried bean, I actually used a dried banana chip because it is what I had on hand, that when found bestows upon its owner the rights to the throne, aka they get to be king for a day! Paper crown and all.

Galette des Rois
*adapted from Chocolate Zucchini 


  • (17 2/3 ounces) all-butter puff pastry, thawed if frozen

Crème d'amande:
  • (9 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 125 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 130 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • good pinch sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 drop almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon liquor of your choice, such as Grand Marnier or rum

For the eggwash and glaze:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar

- 1 porcelain trinket or dried bean
- Paper crown


1. Prepare the crème d'amande.
Beat the butter until creamy, but avoid incorporating air into it. In a bowl, combine the sugar, almonds, hazelnuts, corn starch, and salt. Stir with a whisk to remove any lump. Add to the creamed butter and mix until smooth. Add the almond extract and orange flower water, then the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.

2. Roll out the puff pastry.
Divide the puff pastry in 2 equal pieces, and roll each one out to form a rough circle a little larger than 12 inches in diameter. Use a sharp knife and an upturned plate of the right dimension to cut a neat 12-inch circle out of one, and a slightly larger one with the other, adding, say, 1/4 inch all around the edge of the plate.

3. Assemble the galette.
Place the smaller of the two circles on a piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk with a tablespoon water (or milk, if you have it handy) until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the outer rim of the dough lightly with the eggwash by a width of about 1 inch. Make sure not to wet the actual edge of the dough, or it will impede its rise.

Pour the crème d'amande in the center and spread it out inside the eggwash ring with a spatula.

Place a dried bean, or the trinket of your choice, in the crème d'amande -- not in the center but closer to an edge, or your knife will keep running into it when you divide the galette. And if it is an elongated shape, make sure to orient it straight toward the center of the galette, again, to minimize the possibility of you hitting it with your knife. Press it down gently to bury it.

Transfer the second round of dough precisely on top of the first, smooth it out gently over the crème d'amande to remove any air pocket, and press it down all around the sides to seal.

4. Score the galette.
Using the back of the tip of your knife, draw a decorative pattern on top of the galette. I chose to make a sun pattern: you start from the center and draw an arc to reach the edge of the galette in a single, smooth gesture, exercising just enough pressure to score the dough without piercing it. You then turn the galette ever so slightly, draw a similar arc nested in the first one, and repeat until the entire galette is scored.

Holding your knife upright, blade down, and using the dull side of the blade, push the dough inward where each sun ray ends, to create a festooned pattern.

Brush the top of the galette lightly with the eggwash: again, make sure it doesn't drip over the edges, or the eggwash will seal the layers of the puff pastry in this spot and it won't develop as well. Let it rest a minute then brush it lightly again with the eggwash. (As you can see on the picture below, my eggwash pooled a bit around the bulge of the crème d'amande, which resulted in a darker coloring around the sides; I didn't mind, but I'll be more careful next time.)

Using the tip of your knife, pierce 5 holes in the top dough -- one in the center, and four around the sides, piercing through the pattern you've drawn -- to ensure an even rise.

Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or a tart pan with a removable bottom, and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

5. Bake the galette.
Preheat the oven to 360°F. Insert the galette in the middle of the oven and bake for 30-35 min, until puffy and golden brown.

In the final minutes of baking, combine the tablespoon of confectioner's sugar with a tablespoon very hot water. When the galette is done, remove it from the oven, brush it across the top with the syrup, and return it to the oven for a minute; this will give it a shiny finish.

Place on a rack to cool completely (it will settle as it cools) and serve at room temperature or still warm out of the oven.


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