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Galette des Rois – King Cake

What is a Galette des Rois?

At this time of year, Epiphany, French boulangeries are stocked with Galettes des Rois. In its traditional form, these are two disks of puff pastry filled with almond creme (often called frangipane). A small token is placed inside each one, should you find this, you are King (or Queen) for the day.

The top patissiers make the most beautiful Galettes des Rois in all shapes and forms. It’s well worth looking at the #galettesdesrois hashtag on Instagram.

Can you make a Galette des Rois at home?

You can indeed make one of these pastry marvels and it is well worth the effort. This year I decided to try using rough puff pastry rather than the time consuming puff pastry and I am thrilled with the result. You’ll still need some time, as it works best if you can leave the pastry overnight.

Galettes des Rois

Galettes des Rois made with rough puff pastry

Flavouring

Flavouring is really important. I’ve previously made the Galette des Rois and have not added enough punchy flavour to the filling. This time I am adding both rum and orange peel.

Scored pastry

Score the pastry, but do not cut completely through

Scoring

Brushing the pastry with egg and letting it dry makes it far easier to score. The trick is to score only, not cut through the pastry. I use a lame that I would use to score bread with.

Baking

When you bake the pastry, don’t be tempted to take it out of the oven too soon. It needs to be golden top and bottom and could take up to 45 minutes.

Rough Puff Pastry

If you’ve not made rough puff pastry before, be brave. It seems so improbable that adding cubed butter to flour and roughly mixing will achieve the desired result. It will, I assure you. You can then use this pastry for other items, including sausage rolls.

Rough puff pastry

Chunks of butter folded into flour and mixed with water and lemon juice

Galettes des Rois

Galette des Rois with Rough Puff Pastry

Danielle Ellis
Traditionally made at Epiphany, this is a crisp pastry filled with almond cream sometimes called frangipane. Give yourself plenty of time to make this, it will be worth it! You will have some pastry trimmings left over and some extra creme patissiere.
Prep Time 2 hrs
12 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Lame or very sharp knife for scoring, pastry brush, baking parchment or silicon sheet, rolling pin

Ingredients
  

  • Rough puff pastry
  • 225 gr Flour
  • 170 gr Butter unsalted French (President) or Lurpack straight from the fridge
  • 140 ml Water cold
  • 5 ml Lemon juice
  • 3 gr Salt
  • Creme Patissiere
  • 200 ml Milk whole or semi skimmed
  • 20 gr Caster sugar
  • 20 gr Cornflour
  • 5 ml Vanilla extract
  • Almond Creme - Creme d'Amande
  • 75 gr Ground almonds
  • 75 gr Caster sugar
  • 50 gr Butter preferably unsalted
  • 10 ml Rum or orange liqueur
  • 20 gr Orange peel chopped very finely

Instructions
 

  • Rough Puff Pastry
    Place the flour and salt into a bowl.
  • Cut the butter into cubes approximately 1 cm or 1/2 inch in size.
  • Tip the butter cubes into the flour and very lightly mix to coat the butter in the flour.
  • Add the water and lemon juice. Mix together gently. It will be a rough shaggy mess. Press together
    Rough puff pastry
  • Turn out of the bowl, drawing the mixture together gently. Roll the pastry out into a rectangle, about 1 cm 1/2 thick. You will now fold the pastry in thirds. Fold down the top third of the pastry towards you. Fold up the bottom third of the pastry on top the third you have just folded.
  • Turn the pastry anti clockwise, so the wider open fold is to the right. Press the rolling pin into the pastry to flatten it a little. Press your finger in once on a corner of the pastry to show you have folded once. Cover the pastry and put in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. I use a plastic bag.
  • For the second turn, take the pastry out of the fridge, roll gently to form a rectangle about 22 cm long and 15 cm wide. Always keep the wider open fold to the right. Fold again 1/3 from the top, and 1/3rd up. Press lightly. Make a mark to show the 2nd fold. Chill. Do this twice more resting for 15 minutes each time.
  • Creme Patissiere (Pastry cream)
    In a saucepan, mix the cornflour and sugar together. Mix the milk in little by little to avoid lumps (a whisk is ideal for this). Heat the mixture until thickened. Take off the heat and beat in the egg and vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool, covered, until required. Store in fridge if not ready to use.
  • Almond Creme - Creme d'amande
    If you have a stand mixer, place the flour, sugar, butter and egg and flavourings and mix together well. Set aside.
    By hand, mix the butter and sugar together until the mixture lightens in colour, add the flour and egg and flavourings. Mix well together.
  • Assembling the Galette des Rois
    Roll your pastry to about 3 mm thick making sure you have plenty of flour underneath the pastry so it doesn't stick. Using a plate or bowl about 22 cm in diameter as a template cut out one circle . You will then cut the second pastry circle a little larger. Cut a second circle using the same template but 2 cm wider on each side. You will have some pastry remaining that you can use to cut two much smaller disks. Place the offcuts on top of each other before rolling out.
    Rolled pastry for Galette
  • Move the smaller of the two disks onto some baking parchment or silpat. You will now spread the filling.
  • You will now mix some of the creme patissiere into the creme d'amande. Mix both cremes so that they are smooth. Place the almond cream on the scales. Zero the scales and mix in 100 grams of the creme patissiere (you will have some left). Mix well.
  • You are now going to put this mixture onto the pastry circle. You can put the mixture into a bag and pipe it or simply use a spoon. Leave a 2.5 cm / 1 inch border. If you want to add a token for King day, add one at this point.
    Almond cream piped
  • Beat an egg and paint a strip of egg around the edge of the pastry so that the top will stick well to the bottom.
  • Place the larger circle on top of the smaller circle lining up the edges over the filling and press down on the edges only.
  • With the point knife held at 45 degrees go round the edge of the circle knocking the top and bottom layers together.
    Knocking edge and fluting
  • You can also make scallop shapes on the edge by using your knife to bring the pastry in every centimetre or so. Prick the pastry a few times with a very fine point to allow steam to escape.
    Fluted and glazed
  • Brush the entire pastry with egg and place in the fridge overnight uncovered.
  • Just before you want to bake, using a lame or sharp knife, make a design on the pastry. Be careful not to cut right through. Brush with egg again.
    Scored galettes des rois
  • Pre heat the oven to 230C, /450F then lower to 180 C/375F when you put your galette into the oven
  • Bake the galettes . Check after 20 minutes and rotate. Check after 30 minutes and cover if it is getting very golden. It should be ready after about 40 minutes. Do not be tempted to take out too early as it will not crisp enough.
  • Serve warm.
Keyword French pastry, Galette des Rois, Patisserie
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Tokens

Bakeries create a series of tokens to collect each year. Of course, you’ll never know which one you’ll find in your galette. A good excuse to buy more!

Examples of Feves or Tokens for Galettes des Rois Picture kindly provided by Fricote Magazine. Copyright Richard Banroques Charm collection from Monique Wion

More seasonal pastries

Across Europe there are many traditional cakes made at Epiphany – I’ve a recipe for a brioche for Epiphany for you to discover.

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