Galette des Rois

Keeping up Traditions

By | Galette des Rois, New Year | 4 Comments
Yesterday was Epiphany and I made a galette de rois or king’s cake. This cake is traditionally served in France around this time of the year. I’ve written about this before so I won’t repeat myself.
You can buy this cake in French pastry stores, but it is really worth the effort of making it yourself, yes even the pastry. There is something so satisfying watching your homemade puff pastry soar in the oven, and I’ve never achieved the same results with bought pastry. Although Epiphany has passed you can still make the cake and there are step by step instructions for the puff pastry here. The pastry has to be made a day ahead and then you can make the filling and bake the galette. Try it this weekend.
This year I got the bean,  a reward for keeping my new’s resolution to blog weekly? Perhaps not, it is only week two.

Epiphany – Galette part 2

By | Epiphany, Galette des Rois, Step-by-step | No Comments

Well I hope you have leapt out of bed and gave your puff pastry two more rolls this morning. Now you are ready to make the galette.

Pop it back in the refrigerator and take out the almond filling. It will be firmer, but still sticky. Place it between two pieces of plastic wrap and roll or pat it into a 23cm / 9in circle. Slide it onto a baking sheet and pop it back in the refrigerator. Now find une fève or dried bean. As you can see, if you click the link, you can use almost anything, I use a dried kidney bean, you need something with contrasting colour to the filling, and look for the biggest bean you have, so that it isn’t swallowed by accident, yes it has happened to me, and then you’re left without a king or queen!
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut your puff pastry in half and roll into two squares, about 28cm / 11in, then cut out two circles, one 25cm / 10in, and the other 26cm / 101/2in in diameter. (If you find the pastry elastic, springing back on itself, then simply return it to the refrigerator and let it rest). Now, you are probably saying I don’t have the fancy metal discs for measuring the circle, I think this is the only time I use them. Be creative, the top of a cake tin, the bottom of a springform pan, or if you can’t find anything cut a cardboard circle. Keep the trimmings, you can freeze them, to make palmiers p 60.

Turn the 25cm pastry circle over and place on the prepared baking sheet. (Turning the cut pastry over helps it to rise more evenly).
Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the almond circle and centre it on the pastry. (In the book, I place a layer of drained, cooked rhubarb, which adds colour and tartness, but this year I am staying very traditional). The almond mixture will still be soft, by keeping the plastic on it you can move it more easily. You can also smooth and adjust it with a spatula. Remove the plastic wrap, insert the bean, and  brush the edges of the pastry circle with egg wash, remember you set it aside yesterday.

Now flip the larger pastry circle and place on top.  Press to seal very well, trimming the top circle if necessary. Scallop the edges with the back of a knife and cut a steam vent in the top. Using a sharp knife, gently score the top of the pastry by cutting curving lines form the center steam vent to the edge.
Brush with egg wash and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and preferably one hour. (Be careful not to get the egg wash on the cut edges of the pastry, as it will stop it from rising).

Heat the oven to 220C /425F.
Brush the galette with egg wash again and bake until the pastry is puffed and dark golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve at room temperature. And you should have something that looks like this and even if it doesn’t it will taste good. Now all you need is a crown for your king or queen.


The day before Epiphany-Galette part 1

By | Epiphany, Galette des Rois, Step-by-step | 4 Comments

If you follow this blog you will know that I have written about galette des rois before. So instead of recounting the history of this cake, this post is a practical how to make one, no need to buy the book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with RecipesIf you have the book the recipe is p 64.

First you need puff pastry. You’re probably tempted to buy it, thinking it was too hard to make, well don’t and you’re wrong. Puff pastry is simple it just take time and while you are waiting for the pastry you can make the filling, which must be made in advance and then go back to checking your Twitter feed.

You need a cool kitchen and a set of scales. Mix 250g / 83/4 oz flour with 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Now weigh out the same amount of unsalted butter, then take about 30g / 1oz of the butter and rub it into the flour until mealy. Take 150ml / 2/3 cup of ice water, the advantage of living in Toronto in the winter, is that the water straight from the tap is ice cold, add a squeeze of lemon juice to the water and pour it over the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until the liquid is mixed in, then tip the mixture onto a cool surface.
Don’t be tempted to add more water even though it looks like you haven’t added enough.

Knead it,  gathering up all the flour until, it forms a ball. Do this gently and it will come together in a couple of minutes. It should look something like this.


Cut a cross in the top of the dough, then wrap and refrigerate for about 10 minutes.


Meanwhile,  attack the butter. place it between two sheets of parchment or was paper and beat it with a rolling pin, good for working out stress, until the butter is pliable. Shape it into a rough 15cm / 6in square. The reason for doing this is twofold: to shape the butter and have it the same consistency as the dough. Test the dough and the butter by pushing your finger into them, they should have the same consistency. If necessary, place the dough back into the refrigerator.


Rolling between the cross, roll out 4 flaps of dough, leaving the centre four times as thick as the flaps. Try to roll a rough square about 30cm / 12 in. Place the butter on top of the thicker dough centre, so it sits as a diamond on the square dough.

Now fold over the flaps to enclose the dough and to make four layers on top of the butter and a square about 30cm / 12 in.

Tap the pastry square firmly with your rolling pin to seal the edges and flatten slightly.


Roll into a rectangle about 45×15 cm / 18×6 in trying to keep the edges of the pastry as straight as you can. Now fold the pastry into three, from the short end, as you would fold a letter, then turn the pastry 90 degrees so the open end is towards you. Tap the pastry with the rolling pin to seal and flatten.


Roll out again into a rectangle and fold into three. Press two fingers into the pastry to indicate that you have given it two turns. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


While you are waiting you can make the filling for the galette. It is a frangipane, a rich almond filling that needs to be refrigerated overnight to firm up.

You need 100g / 31/2oz each of unsalted butter, caster (superfine) sugar and ground almonds, a pinch of fine sea salt, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon aged rum or Cognac. Place the butter, sugar and salt in a food processor and process until well mixed. Add the almonds, and flour and process to blend. Whisk the eggs, then set aside two tablespoons of egg mixture (this will be for the egg wash so cover ad refrigerate). Add the rum to the remaining egg mixture and pour over the almond mixture. Process until well mixed. It will resemble a batter, turn into a bowl, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Take your pastry out of the refrigerator and let it warm up to room temperature and roll it into a rectangle again, fold it and turn at as before, so giving it another two turns. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The puff pastry needs two more rollings before using. You could continue the rolling after letting it rest at least one hour, in the refrigerator, but you would have had to make the filling the day before.

So check back tomorrow (Epiphany) for part 2.


By | Epiphany, Fat, Galette des Rois, Wise Men | 3 Comments
I would like to start 2009 with a post about one of my favourite cakes, la galette des rois, traditionally baked in France to celebrate Epiphany. Epiphany is tomorrow January 6,and marks the visit of the three wise men to the Christ child. These three eastern kings have wonderful names, Gaspard, Balthazar and Melchior. I’ve only met one Gaspard, the son of my friends Maryse and Cyril Lalanne and Balthazar reminds me of a restaurant so I doubt these names will come back into fashion anytime soon. However, I propose we adopt the French designation for the three wise men – Les Rois Mages – the sorcerer kings – it sounds so much more magical.

As with many religious holidays, Epiphany has lost most of its original meaning and the galette des rois is now eaten throughout the month of January, not only on the 6th, which means you have time to enjoy one. There is a recipe on p64 in my book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes or you might be lucky enough to have a French bakery nearby where you can buy one. The fun of a galette is that une fève, originally a dried bean but now a ceramic figurine, is hidden in the cake. If you happen to find yourself in the Montparnasse area of Paris there is a small store on rue de la Gaité with a fine collection of old ceramic fèves in the window. Today, fèves range from the traditional to the modern inspired by everything from cartoons to television shows, however I find Star Academy, (a French TV talent quest) fèves a bit too much.
And the person who discovers a fève in their slice of galette? Well, he or she is crowned king or queen for the day, an honorary title that simply let’s them wear the cardboard crown sold with the cake.