Christmas may be over but the French are still eating cakes and mine has a raving rabbit in it!
At this time of the year, all over France the bakers windows are filled with their famous « Galette des Rois » or Twelfth Night cakes which are basically puff pastry pies stuffed with a frangipane filling – all nice and flaky and almondy, uumm. The name explains it doesn’t it – round about the twelfth day of Christmas, (Epiphany) the wise men visited Jesus and according to tradition, the galette des rois, was to “draw the kings” to the Epiphany. And so this day is celebrated by eating cake. What’s new? It’s Epiphany on the 6th January and galette is eaten on this day and at both weekends surrounding the 6th. No chance of missing it then!
Traditionally the galette contains a lucky charm, a féve, a raving rabbit ??, which in olden times was a fertility enhancing bean. Say no more. Whoever found the féve in their slice of galette was crowned King or Queen for the day and was required to buy the others a round of drinks. However, the tight-fisted King or Queen would often just swallow the bean to get out of this wild money spending custom. It’s probably for this reason that the bean was replaced by a china figurine. These tiny figurines are available in every possible theme eg, figurines of Tintin, pirates, politicians, animals, smurfs, golfers…… you name it, it’s possible.
To see more, simply google “feve for galette” and enjoy! Nowadays, on Jour J, tradition says that the youngest member of the party sits under the table and shouts out which guest each slice of galette should be given to.
The person who finds the fève in their slice becomes the King or Queen and is given a golden paper crown. They should then choose their Queen or King by dropping the lucky charm in their glass. The only person forbidden to participate in this game is the President of France because it’s against the constitution that he wear a crown……
The Galette des Rois is a pastry feast with puff pastry on the bottom AND on the top with a soft almond frangipane filling. A small slice is filling enough but of course everyone wants a big slice because they want to find the féve!
It’s not difficult to make especially when ready-made puff pastry is used but it is heavy on the calories – fortunately it’s limited to January only and just after Christmas so the diet can begin tomorrow!
This homemade version is much lighter and nicer (I think) than many of the shop bought ones. I found it on “marmiton” and with its 677 5 star votes there was no stopping me. The finished galette is roughly the size of a large dinner plate. If this is too big, half everything and make a smaller one!
Ingredients (for 6 big people):
– 2 rounds of puff pastry or about 500g of puff pastry
– 200 g ground almonds
– 130 g sugar
– 2 eggs
– 80 g of butter
– A few drops of almond extract if you have it
2 tablespoonfuls of créme fraîche or natural yoghurt
– 1 egg yolk to brown
– A lucky charm (a figurine, a fève) to hide inside the cake
Place 1 pastry round on the baking sheet and prick all over with a fork.
Mix all the ingredients (almond powder, sugar, egg, soft butter, almond extract, cream) together in the processor or in a bowl until you’ve got a thick paste.
Spread the almond mixture over the pastry circle, leaving about a 2cm gap between the mixture and the edge of the pastry. Position the charm somewhere in the mixture – preferably towards the edge of the circle to minimize the chances of finding it when cutting the cake later.
Paint round the pastry edge with warm water, lay the second pastry circle on top and press the edges together well.
Use a knife to gently score the pastry which will leave a nice pattern when baked. Paint the top pastry with beaten egg to ensure the cake is glossy when it comes out of the oven. Finally, to avoid the cake swelling up or drying out, pierce a small hole in the center to allow air to escape. I read somewhere that the galette should then be chilled for 20 mins or so before being put in the hot oven as the sudden temperature change makes the puff pastry rise more evenly, so I put mine in the fridge and then baked it at 210 ° C for approximately 25 minutes (check the cake after 20 mins, but don’t hesitate to leave it for up to 35 mins if necessary). It can be eaten warm or cold, on its own or with ice-cream, with a cup of tea or a glass of wine……….just be careful not to swallow the féve or it won’t be very lucky will it!
I have also seen galette recipes where 3 tablespoons of rum were added to the almond paste, but since I don’t like rum I didn’t bother.