Monday, January 11, 2010

Galette des Rois

When I arrived in Paris my junior year of college, it was January. On my first Sunday with my Catholic french family of 7, we gathered snugly around a table that had appeared, beautifully set, in their foyer. I only remember two things about that meal: the radishes with butter and coarse salt at the beginning, and the Galette des Rois at the end. Through my faltering french, I learned we were celebrating Epiphany, the day the 3 wise men arrived at Jesus' side with their gifts. And to celebrate, we were eating a special galette in which a "feve" was tucked (little figurine); whoever found this feve in his or her slice, became the king or queen. There were other rules that are murky to me now, but being new to the tradition-- language, family, country -- I, of course, was the one to bite the little china figurine and blush as I put on the golden paper crown. The cake, it turned out, would prove to be one of my favorites -- it is essentially a giant almond croissant with plenty of almond filling -- and the family to be full of people I love.

After we moved to California and met some special friends who loved the idea of Galette des Rois, Ben and I began our own tradition. There is a local french bakery that makes "Kings' Cake" each January and sells it complete with golden paper crowns. This year, though, I thought it was high time to bake my own. Constance, my french "sister," had given me her recipe, and I had yet to use it. Turns out, the galette couldn't be easier (or more delicious).

Constance's Galette des Rois (Kings' Cake)

2 sheets of puffed pastry, thawed
tad more than 1/2 c almond meal (Trader Joe's has this)
tad more than 1/3 c sugar
1 egg

a little less than ¼ c melted butter
1 tsp almond extract (she said "drops of almond extract" but I like a stronger almond flavor)

Mix all ingredients together.
Cut two circles out of the puffed pastry and put the first on a cookie sheet. Spread the mixture on it, leaving a slight border -- and don't forget to put in the "feve!" Then put the second circle on top and press the edges together. (Note: use a fork to seal the edges all the way around both for aesthetics and to make sure the filling doesn't leak -- one of mine did! You may also want to draw a design on the top of the cake with the point of a sharp knife. Be careful not to cut all the way through the puffed pastry layer but just to make fine lines). Constance suggests making a little hole in the top to let the hot air out -- I did this for neither cake and had no problem. Brush cake with an egg wash and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until it's nice and brown.

Here are a few pictures of our celebration this year. We had no gold crowns, so we used birthday hats and Mardi Gras beads instead. Grace (our goddaughter) and I were the true Queens:
But while Hudson and Silas were playing outside, we stuck lego pieces (our "feves" this year -- fitting for this stage of life) in their slices too, so they were Kings as well:We finally had to cut off little Olive and Eden, who apparently, loved the glaette des rois as much as we did.


mMc said...

The hotel we stayed in {unexpectedly} in Geneva delivered a DELICIOUS one of these to our hotel room just last week! Terry got the little swiss farmer figure and was the king of our celebration. I brought the little guy home with me, tho. for next year.


Anonymous said...

At all our little Mexican panaderias here you can get something very similar called, Rosca de Reyes. I think it is Jan. 6th. The person who gets the baby Jesus is expected to host a party (tamales) on Feb. 2nd... mh