Today is January 6, 2021 and the French celebrate it as Feast of the Ephipany, in Catholic tradition, when the Three Kings or Wise Men, came to visit Baby Jesus in Bethlehem.
I was first introduced to this cake, while in Paris. I saw a bakery window filled with these pastry rings with golden paper Kings crowns on top. “What are these cakes, Mademoiselle?” I asked a passerby.
“They are Kings Cakes, or Galette des Rois, that celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. They are made of almond paste and there is a small surprise inside the cake, a small porcelain figure or fave bean, (feve in French) and whomever finds it is made King or Queen for the day, and wears the paper crown.”
“Oh, they look so delicious, I am going to have a piece right now,” I said. Warm pastry crust surrounded by delicious creamy almond, rolled in my mouth. But no, I did not find the surprise! Make sure you warn your guests of the feve, or they will go home with broken teeth. For children, leave the feve out.
This morning, I was surprised to see the cake with its crown in the window of Mademoiselle Colete’s French bakery in Redwood City, CA. I hurriedly went inside, and pointed to the cake.
“Is this Kings Cake, Madame?”
“Oui, madame, it is.” “I will take one piece and a decaf cappuccino dry.”
Warm memories of my time in Paris came back to me during this cold winter day, as I leaned against a planter because there were no tables to sit at during lockdown. I wonder what they do in Paris? Have they removed all a seating at the cafe’s? It is not Paris without them!
Keeping with my tradition of posting things French, I have the recipe below if you feel like being a French pastry chef for the day! It is easier than it looks, and your French friends will be very impressed with you.
Galette des Rois (Kings Cake) Recipe
This cake is made of an irresistibly creamy almond filling sandwiched between two flaky, buttery layers of puff pastry. The ingredients for almond cream all go into a food processor to blend and then the paste is spread onto store-bought puff pastry making this impressive cake simple to put together. Once you master this foolproof recipe, you ca experiment with different fillings or make your own puff pastry. Serve slices of the galette with tea or cafe au lait to balance the cake’s sweetness.
For the Almond Cream Filling:
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons butter (softened)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
For the Cake:
17 ounces puff pastry (thawed)
Optional: I dried fava bean
1 egg beaten
2 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Steps to Make it
Make the Almond Cream
-Gather the ingredients.
-Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Blend to a smooth, creamy paste. Feel free to make this cream a few days in advance, then refrigerate it in an airtight container.
Assemble the Cake
-Gather the ingredients.
-Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
-Roll out the sheets of puff pastry and cut out 2 (11-inch) circles. Place the first disc on the prepared baking sheet, and spread an even layer of the almond cream, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.
-If you wish to include a feve, you can do so at this point: Simply nestle it in the almond cream.
-Please the second puff pastry disc on top of the filling, and crimp the edges with a fork to seal the cake. Using a sharp knife, score a decorative pattern into the top layer of the pastry, without cutting through to the almond filling. Brush the galette with the beaten egg (this will create a golden crust.)
Bake the Cake
-Bake the cake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and dust the cake with the powdered sugar. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, until the puff pastry becomes a deep golden brown. Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes.
-Serve and enjoy. Crown the king or queen with the paper diadem whomever has found the feve or figurine.