It’s January 6th, Epiphany! which means, King Cake or galette des rois! In France, it’s celebrated all month long with two specific cakes – the brioche with lots of colored sprinkles or a puff pastry almond cream contraption. See below for a recipe for galette des rois with puff pasty!
Inside each galette des rois is placed a fève, a little porcelain figurine in whatever shape the boulangerie or patisserie chooses! Each shop tries to use something unique. One in Versailles has a thick fogged glass square as fèves that are etched with the king’s of Versailles and the palace outline.
After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, I did my internship at a pastry shop in Paris in January and February. We made galettes des rois all the whole month of January and had an assembly line going in the one big rectangular table that was our workspace in the kitchen. Their fèves, pigs dressed as pirates, painters, construction workers… they were hilarious!
Each galette des rois purchased at a bakery almost always comes in a specific carrying bag with a crown added in. Because whoever finds the fève (and hopefully doesn’t lose a tooth!) is the king or queen for the night.
The galette des rois (puff version) is Francois’ favorite dessert. (He says it’s the best thing about January.) We’ve had five so far and it’s January 6th. The crown count is currently even, but we’ll see where it’s at when the end of the month comes… (I’m done for a bit after this one!!! haha).
Galette des Rois
Use homemade or pre-made puff pastry. If you use pre-made, make sure it's the best you can find as this is a major part of this dessert. The puff pastry can be made in advance. You can also fill and assemble the galette des rois, stopping before egg washing and scoring the design and chill it overnight if you'd like, or even freeze!
Assembly tips… you can make this as finicky or not as you like. The multiple chilling points will certainly help with the layers and design but in general make sure your dough remains cold to the touch throughout the process.
To understand the whole cake, you are simply filling two circles of puff pastry with almond cream! So don't overthink it! There are some extra steps like turning the dough an extra quarter turn before placing it on top… that are not essential and can be cut out or disregarded… but for the perfectionist might be something you'd like to do.
Have fun! Add in a feve (porcelain figurine) or something else that will identify the winner as the king or queen for the night.
Rough Puff Pastry
- 2 cups (250g) flour
- 2 sticks/16 tbsp (228g) unsalted butter, cut in big cubes and cold
- 8-12 tbsp (120-180 ml) cold water to bind
Creme d'Amande (Almond Cream)
- 1 cup (95 g) ground almonds (flour or meal)
- 2/3 cup (80 g) powdered or confectioners sugar
- 5 tbsp (70 g) unsalted butter, cubed, room temp
- 2 tbsp (14 g) flour
- 1 large egg, room temp
- 1-2 tbsp rum
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
For the top
- 1 egg beaten to make an egg wash
Make the Rough Puff Pastry
*If using pre-made puff pastry, skip all the below and skip to the almond cream and assembly!*
Toss the flour and cold cubed butter together and then work it in just a bit, pressing the butter between your fingers. Tip: This will not take long! You want LOTS of big pieces as this is how you create your layers.
Add cold water slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time. After each addition, toss with the flour/butter. Add slowly, when just a bit of flour is left in the bottom of your bowl, start scrunching the mixture together to see how well it holds a ball. Add tiny bits of water until it comes together.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.
Flour your surface, rolling pin, and top of the dough and roll into a long skinny rectangle. Make a single fold. Bring the bottom third up, and then the top third over to cover it. Chill (if you have time, or move on to the next folds).
Turn the dough a quarter turn so the folds are on the left and right. Roll out again into a long skinny rectangle. Tip: If any butter shows through, pat some flour on it. Make a double fold (book fold). Fold the ends up to meet in the middle, then fold it in half to meet and make a book. Chill again if you have time (especially if it's getting warm). And turn so the folds are on the side, just like before. Repeat the above steps to do another double fold.
Chill 20-30 minutes.
Make the Almond Cream
Cream together the butter and powder sugar. Then mix in the flour and ground almonds.
Add the egg, rum, vanilla, and almond extract and mix to combine. If it seems too soft, add another tablespoon of flour (this will depend on if maybe we lost track of how much rum was added).
Transfer to a piping bag.
Roll out into a large rectangle, big enough to where you can cut out two big circles (about the size of a dinner plate).
Cut the dough in half. Brush the top of one half with water- just around the edges.
Using a smaller ring or plate, indent a circle on the half that's brushed with water to act as a guide for where to put the almond cream.
Pipe in the almond cream, doing two circles one on top of the other, if you like.
Turn the other puff pastry half a quarter turn and place on top, smoothing around the cream and pressing slightly to seal.
Cut in a circle using the plate or a large ring that you used to measure the dough earlier as a guide.
Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten).
Chill (if you have time). Then brush with egg wash again.
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.
Using a sharp knife make a hole in the center, making sure to cut all the way through to the filling to release steam as it bakes.
Then score the top in whatever design you'd like!
Bake at 200C/400F for 40-45 minutes or until very golden.
Serve warm! (Usually the cake is reheated for 10-15 minutes at 190C/375F before serving)