Thursday 5 January 2012

Galette des Rois

I love foods that have a story and a tradition.

Galette des Rois or King Cake is made to celebrate Twelfth Night or Epiphany on January 6th. The cake changes according to region and country - this is the version from northern France. A bean, or fève, is always hidden in the galette - though now this is often a small collectible figurine.

Tradition goes that when you cut the cake, the youngest person present hides under the table. The cake is cut into the right number of pieces, then the youngest calls out who gets each piece. The person to find the hidden bean is the king for the day, hosts the next year and gets the crown. They get to pick a queen, who wears the other crown.

As I wasn't buying a galette, I needed crowns. I got out the paper, spray paint and glitter and had a wonderful time playing about.

I went a little bit crazy with the glitter. Most of the flat sparkles now if you catch it in the right light.

After I'd finished I made mum model them for me. Whenever I do this, she starts making funny faces and then we both end up crying with laughter. Good times.

I was going to buy some puff instead of making it. Sadly the only stuff I could find in the supermarkets was made with vegetable fats instead of butter. No good.

Instead I decided to try out Michel Roux's rough puff recipe from Pastry (you can find it online here). I was really pleased with the results - quicker and easier than classic puff and it turned out beautifully. Definitely a good recipe to have. I think I'm going to make some palmiers for mum with the spare chunk. I've tried to explain the technique for making the pretty edges to the galette in the recipe - we learnt how to do it last term.

Edit 2013: I have now written a step-by-step Foundations guide to making rough puff pastry (which is what I used here).

This recipe stood out for me as it didn't involve pastry cream. I've never been a big fan. Then last term we made it so many times and used it in so many ways - we were all totally sick of it by the end. I'm sure there'll be plenty more this term but I wanted to avoid it while I could.

I also followed Clotilde's suggestion of using some ground hazelnuts in the creme - I'm so glad I did. They add a lovely extra dimension.

I have to admit I wasn't convinced that this was going to be particularly tasty. I was very pleasantly surprised - it was totally delicious. Flaky and buttery with a complex nutty middle. Definitely worth trying.

Galette des Rois
(adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini)

For the creme d'amande:
65g unsalted butter, soft
65g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
15g ground hazelnuts
1/2 tbsp cornflour
pinch of salt
1 tsp flavouring of choice*
1 eggs

To assemble:
500g quality puff pastry
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp hot water
2 beans or ceramic figures
2 crowns

Beat the butter in a stand mixer (or by hand) until very soft and creamy. Mix the sugar, almonds, hazelnuts cornflour and salt together in another bowl, then tip in. Mix until combined. Add the flavouring and beat again. Finally add the eggs one by one, making sure they're well distributed before you add the next. Transfer to a smaller bowl and put in the fridge to firm up for an hour.

When you're ready to make the galettes, take the puff pastry out of the fridge (make sure it's well chilled) and divide into four. Put two chunks back into the fridge. Roll out one of the pieces until it's roughly a 7"/18cm circle. Using a plate or the bottom of a cake tin, cut out a 6"/15cm circle with a sharp knife and place onto a piece of parchment paper. Roll out the other piece and cut a slightly bigger circle - 6.5"/16cm or so.

Combine the egg yolk and milk to make an egg wash. Brush the edge of the smaller circle with it, being careful to not go over the edge (can stop the layers separating). Spoon about two heaped tablespoons of creme d'amande into the centre (within the egg) and smooth out into a disc. Place the ceramic/bean on top and press in (it's best around the edge so it doesn't get caught in the knife when you cut it, like this). Drape the bigger piece of puff over the top and smooth out any air bubbles on the creme. Press it in and up so that the two edges align and the curve is tight to the creme underneath. Press to seal.

Use the blunt side of a knife to score a pattern in the top, running down from the centre to the edge in a curve. Turn the galette as you go, making until you have a full circle. Crimp the edges by placing your finger onto the pastry at an angle and curling the knife around it (see diagram and photo). Carefully brush the top with egg wash, avoiding the edge again. Use the point of your knife to make five holes in the top - in the middle and then four more (helps the puff to rise evenly). Place onto a baking sheet using the parchment. Put into the fridge to chill for an hour. Repeat with the other 2 pieces to make the second galette. At this point you can freeze them for later.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Bake the galettes straight from the fridge for 30-40 minutes until puffy and deep golden brown. Just before they come out, combine the icing sugar and hot water. Remove from the oven to a wire rack, then immediately brush with the glaze. Leave to cool (I placed a bit of kitchen towel underneath as they were a bit buttery on the bottom).

* You can use orange blossom water, the liquor of your choice (rum, brandy etc) or vanilla extract.

(Makes 2 small galettes - each serves 3-4)

Three more Christmas recipes:
Mince Pies
Bûche de Noël


  1. Jeni -Emma's mum5 January 2012 at 21:34

    I was expecting this to be rather sickly but it was really delicious. I will definitely make this part of our traditions for the Christmas period.

  2. Emma, Happy 2012! I loved the story of the Galette des Rois. And it is so cute that you even made the crowns!
    When I look at the photo showing the interior, it reminds me a bit of Baklava ( which I love.) Maybe a French, refined and beautiful baklava? Your skills wow me!

  3. I don't know whether I should make this or buy one from the bakery as usual. At 9 euros for one I think it's a lot cheaper to make! You may have inspired me. Emma x

  4. What a captivating tradition! Did you do the whole "youngest-person-under-table-yelling-names" thing or was it just you and your mother? (And who got the stunning crowns? :P ) I've been looking for a decent puff or rough puff pastry dough recipe - one of my NY Resolutions was to stop being slack with puff pastry and man up and make it properly.

  5. Great looking galette ! I'm going to check this Michel Roux recipe !

  6. Your galette looks amazing!!!! It's so neat and perfectly formed. I need some practice to get mine to look anything like that. Do you have any tips?

  7. Oh, Epiphany! I used to celebrate when I lived back in Europe, and now that I am over in Australia I almost forgot about it. I never had Galette de Roix though, maybe now that I live here I can start my own little culunary tradition of Epiphany Galettes! Thanks for sharing, lovely blog you have here!

  8. A really enjoyable post to read Emma, I'd read about this but hadn't fully understood all the interesting history behind it! Glad to hear it turned out so tasty

  9. I love how you've shaped the galette.. soo pretty.

  10. yummy supper - Happy 2012 Erin! Isn't baklava very sweet? This isn't very sweet. I'd like to try making baklava though!

    Anonymous - They are expensive, aren't they! I remember seeing a photo of some for sale in Paris for 22 euros! Hope you enjoyed making one if you did :)

    pepperandsherry - We didn't in the end as there were just two of us one night and three the other! Our friend got the first bean, I got the second. This is a wonderful recipe, I'd really recommend it.

    argone - Thanks! It's a good one, do check it out.

    Jennifer (Delicieux) - I guess the best tip is to make sure it is well chilled when you roll it out and to take it slowly when you're shaping.

    mylovelybites - I love setting up new traditions! I'm sure we're going to make these for a few years to come.

    Kate@whatkatebaked - Glad you enjoyed it - I love little nuggets of food history.

    Shaheen [The Purple Foodie] - Thanks! They are sweet.

  11. Your galette looks amazing.... soo pretty!


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