Bake to celebrate the 3 Kings

Galettes and Brioches for Epiphany

With all the festivities of Christmas behind us, what is there to look forward to in January?

In countries that include France, Spain, and Mexico you’ll discover their particular version of King cake made to celebrate Epiphany on 6th January. This important day marks the arrival of the Three Kings (or Wise Men) bringing gifts to the baby Jesus of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Until as recently as the 19th century, this date was considered far more important than Christmas Day! Nowadays, the cakes and breads are usually sold throughout January with plenty of time to savour. Let’s take a tour of some of the wonderful creations available. There are two different types, ones created with pastry, ones that are brioche based.


In Mexico, this king cake, Rosca de Deyes, is served with hot chocolate. A small doll is inserted into the cake representing the baby Jesus. The person who find the doll is then expected to host a tamales party on Candlemass day, the 2nd February. It’s a brioche style dough topped with strips of quince jelly in red and green. Follow the link in the tweet below for a recipe.


In Catalonia, the Tortell is stuffed with marzipan. A bean and a figure of a King will be included in the dough. Who ever find the bean, apparently has to pay for next year’s Tortell. The person who finds the figurine, gets to wear a crown.


In Italy panettone and pandoro are eaten at New Year as well as Christmas. In Venice, there’s a traditional brioche sometimes confusingly called a focaccia. It’s a light yeasted dough flavoured with lemon and in Galileo Reposo’s recipe, filled with flavoured creme patissiere and topped with a crumble. It is similar to the Provencal version. 


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In France, the Galette de Rois is made from puff pastry and is traditionally filled with Creme d’Amandes, a glorious mixture of creme patissiere and almond. Discover my recipe for Galettes des Rois

In times gone by a bean would be added to the filling, now it is more likely to be a figurine. It can get rather competitive. Some bakeries produce a whole series of figures, and of course you’d need to collect them all. Many are sold topped with a King’s Crown. The youngest child is prompted to sit beneath the table and direct who should eat the piece that is cut. If you find the figurine, you are King (or Queen) for the day.

Brioche des Rois Recipe

The pastry galettes are found all over France, but in the North and in Provence, the King cake is a brioche. My recipe comes from Provence and is full of citrusy flavours.

Brioche des Rois Provencale - Provencale King Cake

Brioche des Rois Provencale – King cake from Provence

Brioche des Rois Provencale

Brioche des Rois Provencal - Provencal King Cake

Danielle Ellis
This brioche is often made at the time of Epiphany, 6 January, to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings. It is full of lovely citrusy flavours and candied fruit, yet is light to eat. You could add creme patisserie or whipped cream as a filling. This versatile dough can be made and left to prove in the refrigerator overnight should it fit your schedule better. Orange flower water is widely available. The quantity may seem high, but it really works well
Course Afternoon Tea
Cuisine French
Servings 8


  • 380 gr flour French T55 flour or bread flour
  • 30 gr caster sugar
  • 20 gr fresh yeast or 10 gr dried yeast
  • 75 gr butter, cubed preferably unsalted
  • 20 ml orange flower water
  • 20 gr honey
  • 50 gr mixed peel optional
  • 3 gr salt
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 100 gr mixed dried fruit eg apricots, dates, cherries
  • water a little more if the mixture is very dry
  • pearl sugar nibs optional, for decoration
  • jam for glazing apricot or plum works well


  • Beat the eggs and place in a small bowl. You will need to reserve about a tablespoon for brushing on the brioche before cooking. 
  • Place the flour, caster sugar, salt and yeast into the mixer bowl. 
  • Add the honey, orange flower water and cubed butter. Add the eggs reserving approximately one tablespoon full. 
  • With a dough hook or your hands mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is very smooth and supple and reaches 24°C. Add the candied peel and mix for another minute. It will come away from the sides of the mixer bowl. If it is very dry, add a dessertspoon of water and mix again. 
  • If you wish you can check the temperature of the dough. This should be between 24 and 26 degrees centigrade. 
  • Cover the bowl and leave it in a draft free place for 1 hour. Alternatively, put in the fridge for use later (leave it at least 6 hours). 
  • Form the dough into a smooth round ball. Then flatten slightly and make a hole in the middle. Widen the hole and shape evenly (like a large holey doughnut). 
  • Place on a silicon sheet or baking parchment on a baking tray. Brush lightly with the remaining beaten egg. 
  • Chop the mixed fruit and sprinkle round the top of the brioche. If you are using pearl sugar, sprinkle that round the sides.
    Brioche des Rois before baking
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C
  • Leave the brioche at least 1 hour before baking. It should be soft and spongy to the touch. 
  • Brush again with egg. Have some extra parchment paper to hand to place on the top half way through baking. 
  • Bake for approximately 25 minutes. The brioche should we well risen and golden brown. After about 15 minutes, place the parchment paper on top. When ready, the underneath should be golden brown and the dough round the hole should be well cooked. 
  • Let it cool a little before serving. If you are adding cream or creme patissiere, it should be completely cold. 
    Brioche des Rois Provencale - Brioche for epiphany


This recipe can be made without a stand mixer. If you do make it by hand, soften the butter first. 
You will need a baking tray, baking parchment or silicon paper; a pastry brush.
Share this recipe!Mention @breadbakerdani or tag #breadbakerdani!

Inspired to bake more? Check out my Bake Better Bread Series or take a class with me.

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  • Reply
    18/12/2019 at 10:44

    Oh my goodness I’m so hungry now!

  • Reply
    Sara at All Aboard the Skylark
    24/01/2019 at 16:59

    It’s funny we don’t celebrate this isn’t it, considering 12th night is when we’re all supposed to take our decorations down by. If it means more food, I’m all up for celebrating it!

    • Reply
      24/01/2019 at 19:21

      We are definitely missing a trick! It’s such a big deal in France

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