Wednesday, January 6, 2010

King For A Day

For some reason, growing up I always assumed that the Twelve Days of Christmas fell during the twelve days preceding Christmas. Oops, I guess I just didn't listen to the lyrics of the song very well. Maybe it was just wishful thinking to get all those geese a-laying and golden rings before Santa even came. However, the Twelve Days of Christmas are actually a medieval tradition marking the time right after Christmas and ending on Epiphany--today!--January 6th. In Christianity, Epiphany itself marks the beginning of the celebration period lasting through February and culminating at Mardi Gras--although most of us are probably satisfied with all the stress, celebration and gift-giving that goes into the holiday season, let alone all this celebrating afterwards.

For me, I just look at it as an excuse to extend all the great food-eating of November and December into the new year. Because Epiphany is the celebration of the storied Three Kings, last year I made my own version of Mardi Gras' famed King Cake. This year, I'm super excited to make my first Galette des Rois--the version eaten on this day all over France.

While you're probably used to the American-style King Cakes that are made with yeast dough, iced, and doused in color sugar, the French Galette des Rois is the epitome of the classy French dessert--light and flaky puff pastry, a simple and luscious frangipane filling and a light dusting of powdered sugar is all it takes for this elegant celebration cake.
While the cake is in honor of the three kings, it also gives you the chance to be royalty for a day. When you make the cake, be sure to hide a dried bean in the filling--whomever gets the piece with the bean becomes the king or queen!
Galette des Rois
1/4 cup almond paste
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 pkg puff pastry, thawed
1 dry kidney bean
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbs powdered sugar, for dusting

  1. Mix the almond paste into a food processor or blender with about half of the sugar until well blended. Add the butter and remaining sugar using and blend until smooth, then blend in 1 egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, flour and salt. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet or line with parchment paper, and set aside.
  3. Roll out one sheet of the puff pastry into an 11 inch square. Keep the pastry cool, do not knead or stretch. Use a large pie plate, cake pan or frying pan to trace an 11 inch circle onto the dough using the tip of a small knife. Place the circle of pastry onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry. Refrigerate both sheets.
  4. Mound the almond filling onto the center of the pastry that is on the baking sheet. Leave about 1 1/2 inch margin at the edges. Press the bean down into the filling. Place the second sheet of pastry on top, and press down the edges to seal. Beat the remaining egg with a fork, and lightly brush onto the top of the galette. Prick several small slits in the top to vent steam while baking.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Do not open the oven until the time is up, or the pastry will not fully puff. Remove from the oven, and dust with powdered sugar. Return to the oven, and cook for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  6. Lay a golden paper crown gently on top of the cake. This will be used to crown the person who finds the bean. Serve warm or cold. Make sure to tell everyone about the bean .


  1. Thank you for satisfying my French holiday nostalgia with the well executed galette. Next time I will hide a winning bean/charm up my sleeve.

  2. @kitschnclassics My pleasure! So glad you enjoyed it and thanks so much for introducing us to that amazing pâté pantin!