Bonjour mes amis! Today I want to introduce you to the Cake of Kings or French Galette des Rois. This is a French tradition which takes place on the 6th January each year. The family comes together for a special meal on the Sunday closest to the 6th. At the end of the meal each family member will have a slice of the Kings Cake or, Galette des Rois.
The Galette des Rois is more a pastry than a cake. Our French exchange student Romane explained that in France a cake which is made with pastry is a Galette instead of being called a Gateau. The pastry cake traditionally has a delicious almond frangipane filling. Other than the amazing flavour, what makes this cake unique is that it’s baked with a figurine or fève (bean) inside.
Each person will take a slice of the cake and the person who gets the figurine will be crowned king for a day. Part of the tradition is that the youngest child must get under the table and say the names of each family member. This is then the order in which the server gives out the slices of cake. The winner is given a cardboard crown and is the King or Queen for the day.
When I dug a little further I found this is a Christmas tradition which dates back to at least the 14th century. When Jesus was born the wise men began their pilgrimage to find the baby Jesus. On the 6th January the star led them to Bethlehem. The Epiphany is when the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem and saw the baby Jesus. This date is now celebrated in France with the Kings Cake.
Another cute thing I discovered, in French nativities scenes, the three wise men aren’t usually shown in the nativity until after the 6th January. Obviously because they are still travelling.
Anyway, enough chatting. I want to share the recipe because it is delicious. Instead of using the traditional almond meal in the frangipane we used hazelnut meal. Romane explained that although it is a traditional cake, patisseries have started making interesting variations with chocolate and other nuts.
I LOVED the hazelnut version! As Brett said whilst eating his second slice, it tastes like the French people’s answer to Baklava! All the delicious, crunchy pastry and sweet nutty filling! YUM!
- 2 Sheets Puff Pastry
- 200 gm ground hazelnut
- 150 gm sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 3 eggs
- 100 gm butter room temperature
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 Tbs sugar
- 1 figurine
Preheat the oven 210 degrees C
Grease a pie dish or cake tin with butter.
Cut the first puff pastry in a circle large than the base of the dish. The puff pastry will then cover the base of the pie dish and come up the side.
Combine all the filling ingredients and mix until well combine and smooth.
Spread the filling over the puff pastry base.
Add the figurine to a section of pie nearer to the outside.
Cut the second sheet of puff pastry to fit the top of the cake.
Seal the two sheets of pastry by pinching the edges together.
The cake traditionally has a pattern just barely scored into the pastry. Use a sharp knife to create a pattern on the pastry if you like.
Add some hole with the knife to allow the air to escape. Choose spots in the pattern where a hole may look appropriate.
Brush the pastry with a beaten egg yolk.
Sprinkle the top of the cake with sugar. The sugar will caramelise in the oven.
Cook for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry appears crisp and golden top and bottom.
In case you were wondering who was king for a day, I will share. We had 9 people for dinner, my hubby, hubby sister and her hubby, 2 of my children, 2 of my children’s friends, Romane and me. Anais was the little one under the table and Romane was serving the cake. It was one of Anais little friends who was crowned queen.
I think this is a lovely and fun tradition. I think it will be one that we have to adopt.
Do you have any family traditions like this? Anyway, Au Revoir for now.