Epiphany, believed to be the day the wise men visited the Baby Jesus, is generally celebrated on January 6th, especially in French culture, where the celebration is called Fête des Rois. A must for this holiday is a King’s Cake, or “la Galette des Rois.” Starting around the first of December, bakeries in France, feature these delicious cakes. For generations, a dried bean was baked in the cake, but in modern times, une fève (which means bean, but is now a fancy little ceramic character) is used. The lucky person who finds the fève in their piece of cake is King (or Queen) for a day and must supply the cake next year. It is important to be very careful when eating your piece, as the bean or fève could break a tooth!
Recently, while in Paris, I picked up a delightful children’s book explaining the tradition; La Véritable Histoire de la Galette des Rois. The book also includes a recipe for an authentic cake and a cute fève in the shape of a mouse, the main character in the book. I have adapted this recipe, so everyone – French speakers, and non-French speakers - can make La Galette des Rois at home.
Incidentally, in some parts of France, they serve a “Brioche des Rois,” which is a bread rather than a cake, but it also includes a fève. A “Brioche des Rois,” can be made quickly in an automatic bread machine and isn’t quite as sweet, so it is an alternative to include on the buffet you will undoubtedly serve at your own Féte de Rois this year. You can, of course serve both, and they both can be made ahead and frozen.
If you love all things French, like I do, and happen to speak and understand the language, this book is available at Amazon: la véritable histoire de la galette des rois
1 pound puff pastry, thawed (2 sheets)
3/4 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup soft butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg, beaten
- Preheat oven to 400°; line a jelly-roll pan with parchment.
- Roll one of the puff pastry sheets into a 12" circle and place the circle on the prepared baking sheet.
- Spread the filling onto the pastry to 1" of the edge; brush the edge with a little of the beaten egg.
- Roll the remaining pastry sheet to a 12" circle and place on top of the filling, pressing the edges with your fingers to make sure the filling is sealed inside.
- Use a fork to press down decoratively around the edge.
- Using a very sharp knife or razor, cut shallow lines about 1" apart; cut diagonal lines in the opposite direction.
- Brush the cake with the remaining egg.
- Bake about 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Do not under bake, as the dough will become soggy.
- Filling: Place the almonds and sugar in the food processor; process until very fine.
- Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 156 Calories from Fat 99
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 64% Protein 8% Carb. 29%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 4 g
Cholesterol 34 mg
Sodium 125 mg
Total Carbohydrate 11 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 3 g
Protein 3 g
Vitamin A 3% Vitamin C 0% Calcium 0% Iron 3%