La Fête des Rois

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Each year the boulangers and pâtissiers of France squish their croissants into their pain viennois to make room in their counters for piles and piles of Galette des Rois. A light, buttery, almond-filled pie that is enjoyed by everyone, young and old, to coincide with January 6 - the feast of the Epiphany.

Without getting too religious, the feast of the Epiphany is the day the three kings visited the new-born Jesus. Baked into the frangipane filling is a very small trinket called a fève. Traditionally an actual broad bean was baked in the cake but by of the end of the 19th century a porcelain figurine of baby Jesus had replaced the bean and as of late poor baby Jesus has been replaced with figurines of cartoon characters such as Asterix and Super Mario. The fortunate one who receives the fève in their slice (or, unfortunate, depending on when exactly it is you realise you have a hard bit of porcelain in your pie) is granted the honour of wearing a crown usually provided with all commercially-sold cakes and declared king for the day.

My first slice of the yummy Galette des Rois was three years ago now and since I've looked forward to enjoying this cake and its traditions with colleagues and friends each January. This year I decided I would make my own.

After much Googling I decided to follow Clotilde Dusoulier's recipe from the January 19, 2010 post on her blog, 'Chocolate & Zucchini'. That fact that Clotilde provides her recipe in perfect English meant I would be able to follow the recipe easily enough yet as she is a frenchwoman gave me faith my galette would turn out alright. I skimmed over the recipe, decreed it shall be the one, loaded the list of ingredients on to the phone and headed to the supermarket.

As much as I would have loved to have purchased the puff pasty for this recipe from the store she describes in the post (which has shot to the top of my store visit list) I decided to just buy the generic, pre-cut and rolled pastry from my local supermarket; I would've hated to see that beautiful pastry scorched and binned should my pie have gone horribly wrong. Although I don't think the generic pastry harmed the taste too much, I will definitely invest in some better quality pastry for the next one.
Also, I decided to not include the hazelnut flour nor the almond extract Clotilde adds to hers; for my first try I wanted to keep it quite simple. However, I was very excited to see Grand Marnier as an ingredient on the list as I've had a bottle on our top shelf for months and been dying to use it somehow.
My fève came courtesy of Mr M. I had the choice of Captain Haddock from Tin Tin or a baby Jesus, both Mr M swiped last year from the kitchen at the resto/bar he works at. To uphold a little tradition I went with Jesus. What wasn't traditional however was the crown I used which was a souvenir I kept from my jaunt to Amsterdam for Queen's Day last April. Not the regular paper kind but it did the job.

Now, while this recipe is actually quite straightforward and the preparation is quite simple, it requires about three hours preparation, including two one-hour-long bouts of refrigeration time; once for the filling and then once for the assembled pie just before being baked. Don't do what I did when I got home from the supermarket with only two and a half hours until I had to leave, with pie, to meet my friends at the pub; start reading the recipe word for word and have a mild panic attack... Gah! Rookie mistake!
Enter Mr M who graciously helped me and three hours later (I called my friends to tell them that if they wanted pie I was going to be late) I was heading down the street with a hot pie sitting on a cooling rack wrapped in a reusable floral Monoprix bag in my outstretched hands.
Despite the harried preparation and its bumpy journey on the Métro my lovely friends, a mix of both Anglo and French, all really enjoyed the galette; one dear friend even telling me that while she usually tells everyone that their baked something is quite good this time she meant it, it was really good! Thank goodness!

Classic Galette des Rois
From the recipe 'Galette des Rois' by Clotilde Dusoulier, Chocolate & Zuccchini, January 19, 2010.
Makes 8 slices (or 12 very skinny ones for your post-Christmas-waistline conscious friends)

Preparation; 2.5hrs
Cooking; 30mins


(French terms of ingredients are provided in brackets for those on this side of the world to more easily locate them in the supermarket).
+ 2 x pure-butter puff pastry rolls (pâte feuilletée pur beurre)
     or 500g rolled out into two 30cm diameter circles
Crème d'amande* filling
+ 125g x unsalted butter, softened (beurre doux)
+ 125g x caster sugar (sucre en poudre)
+ 125g x almond meal (poudre d'amande)
+ 8g x corn starch (fécule de maïs - look for the brand 'Maïzena' - Merci Clotilde for providing that tip)
+ 2 x eggs (les ouefs)
+ 1 x generous pinch of sea salt (sel de mer)
+ 1 x tbsp of Grand Marnier, or other liquor of your choice. If you're making this to be enjoyed by kids replace this with orange flower water (l'eau de fleur d'oranger)
+ 20g x hazelnut flour, replacing 20g of the almond meal above (farine or poudre de noisette)
+ 1 x drop of almond extract (extrait d'amande amère)
1 x egg
1 x tbsp milk (lait) or tepid water.
1 x tbsp icing sugar (sucre glace)
1 x tbsp boiling hot water
1 x small porcelain trinket (fève)
1 x paper crown (couronne en papier)

* Most commercially-sold galettes have a frangipane filling however this recipe makes a crème d'amande which is slightly different. Clotilde explains the difference in her post.

Prepare the filling
In a large bowl beat the butter until it becomes creamy and whiter in colour. In a separate bowl combine the caster sugar, almond meal, corn starch, salt and stir to remove lumps. Add to the butter and mix well. One at a time add the liquor and each egg, mixing well after each. The mix should have a paste-like resemblance. Cover bowl in cling film and refrigerate for one hour.

Prepare the pastry
After the filling has been in the fridge for about 45 minutes, unroll the two pastry circles. Trim about 6mm off the entire edge of one - this will be the base. Mr M and I achieved this by putting a large, upturned mixing bowl over the pastry and cut around it. Keep the smaller circle on the baking paper it comes wrapped in and lay on baking tray. (If you are rolling the pastry yourself place baking paper down on the tray first, or alternatively use a pie tin) Let the pastries rest for 15 minutes, or the recommended time as appears on the packaging.

Prepare the pie
In a small bowl mix the yolk of the last egg with the milk - if you haven't any milk on hand a tablespoon of water will do. Using a pastry brush swipe the egg wash on the outer edge of the smaller pastry circle in an inch-wide ring. Do not let the wash touch the sides of the pastry or you may prevent the galette from rising in the oven. Leave the rest of the egg wash aside for later. Spoon the filling into the centre of the smaller pastry and spread out with a spatula to meet the egg wash. Push the fève into the filling somewhere towards the edge.

Very carefully place the larger pastry circle on top of the base, smoothing out the top of the filling as you go, pushing out any trapped air. Press firmly all around the edges to seal the pie.
Take a sharp knife and, without pressing too hard, score the top pastry in a pattern of your choosing with the back of the tip. I chose to do a harlequin diamond pattern but there are many you can choose from. Brush egg wash over the whole galette, being careful to not let it drip over the sides to the base. Wait about a minute and repeat. With the sharp knife make five holes as air vents in the top; one in the centre and four equally around the sides. Place the baking tray and galette in the fridge again for one hour.

Bake the pie
Just before the hour's up preheat your oven to 180°C. When finished in the fridge, place the baking tray with galette in the middle of your oven and cook for 30mins. To give the galette a super shiny finish mix the icing sugar with the boiled water to make a glaze and with a couple of minutes to go in the oven gently brush over the top of the galette. Put baking tray back into the oven for one minute.
Leave to rest on a cooling rack until at room temperature before serving.

I got quite a bit of air trapped in mine as you can see above. As it was cooling I gently tapped the top of the pastry to encourage the air out. It then formed the nice edges you see below.
Enjoy, and may you get the fève and be crowned king this year!


  1. You are so adorable and I LOVE this post!!!!!!

    xxx olivia

  2. Hourra! My first comment :)
    Thank you love, I'm so glad you liked it!! xx

  3. Hello I'm from Mexico. I loved your post, I'm going to try it here. I'm a etcher and we are going to talk about canedian chistmas and January festivities. Do you know how I can get the porcelain figure?

    1. ¡Hola Susana
      Thank you for stopping by! I hope you find this recipe easy to follow should you which to make one in class. I've actually never purchased a Fève before, so I'm not too sure, but you could try searching on Ebay? Or contacting a Canadian bakery to ask if they can tell you their supplier, or even sell you a couple? Hope this helps xx