Words and Photos by Hannah Allen
For the Francophile: Galette des Rois The French: masters of almost all things food. Home to some of the greatest culinary feats, including baguettes and croissants, France has long been revered as a beacon of culinary mastery. Since studying abroad in Paris last spring, I constantly find myself seeking out “French things” to remind me of my jaunt across the Atlantic. So, when a recipe for a traditional Galette des Rois (King Cake) popped up on a web search, I jumped at the opportunity to make one.
Traditionally, king cakes, a pastry shell containing frangipane almond cream, are seen in bakeries around French cities and towns in the month of January to celebrate Epiphany, a holiday recognizing the revelation of God as a human being in Jesus. Originally, the cake would be baked with a bean and the person to find the bean in their slice would be the one to offer the next cake. Recently porcelain or plastic figurines have replaced the bean and a crown has become the prize for discovering the trinket.
Aside from being entirely delicious, these cakes are surprisingly easy to make and great for parties or birthdays (especially if you can make a crazy crown for someone to wear). So show off at your next dinner party with your knowledge of French cuisine and baking skills, guaranteed to impress whoever you invite.
Gallette des Rois
Adapted from the Food Network Active
Time: 20 minutes; Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes; Serves 8-12
*if you want to make two cakes, buy 2 packages and use the normal recipe for the frangipane cream, since it makes enough for two cakes
Shell: 1 or 2 packages store bought puff pastry sheets, thawed (I used Pepperidge farms brand which worked well)
Frangipane Cream (enough for 2 cakes):
1 cup of soft butter
1 cup ground blanched almonds
4 tablespoons flour
¾ cups sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 pinch salt
powdered sugar for dusting
egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Blend together all of the frangipane cream ingredients, until mixed well. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry sheets into 2 circles, each the size of a large dinner plate. Place one of the circles on a greased baking sheet and spread half of the filling into the middle, remembering to place the figurine or (in my case) a walnut anywhere in the circle. Brush the egg yolk mixture around the edges of the dough then place the other circle over the top and press the edges together until sealed. Decorate with a fork, being careful not to puncture the dough. Brush the top with the egg yolk mixture and slide into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees and then another 30 minutes at 350 degrees. For the last five minutes, pull the cake out, dust with powdered sugar and continue to bake until golden brown. Serve warm, with whipping cream, ice cream or just plain.
A votre santé!