Last week we were asked to photograph a Galette des rois, or “King Cake” in English – never heard of it? Neither had we! But turns out it is actually quite a neat idea for a cake based on puff pastry with a filling of almond cream. The trick is that the cake is baked with a small figurine or trinket inside (or if you are a traditionalist use a dried bean). The person who then receives the slice of cake with the trinket is said to have special privileges and obligations by being king or queen for the day.
Traditionally this cake is made to celebrate Epiphany and it is especially popular in France during the Christmas season, however it is enjoyed elsewhere too, including New Orleans where it was introduced by French and Spanish colonists. We think this could be a fun idea for any party you are hosting – just make sure guests know there is a treat inside before they start eating! There is also a cute ritual to decide who gets to eat which slice of cake in the tips at the end of the recipe.
- 2 sheets of puff pastry (buying it pre-made is easiest but you can also make your own)
- 3 eggs
- 125 g (4.4 oz) powdered almonds
- 125 g (4.4 oz) sugar
- 125 g (4.4 oz) softened butter (room temperature, not melted)
- 2 drops of bitter almond extract
- 2 tablespoons of orange water flower or alcohol of your choice
- 2 tablespoons jam of your choice
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 ceramic figurine/trinket or little bean (the bean is more traditional)
- Add the butter and sugar to a mixing bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture becomes light and creamy.
- Add the eggs, bitter almond extract and orange flower water and mix until combined.
- Add the powdered almond stirring until it is completely incorporated.
- Refrigerated this cream mixture for at least 30mins or until it becomes sufficiently firm that it can be spread without running.
- Heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
- On a non-stick baking sheet, lay out a circle of puff pastry. Brush it with the jam of your choice (we used lemon honey) leaving about 2 centimeters / 1 inch around the edge of the pastry free.
- Spread the almond cream, also leaving the edge of the pastry sheet free from cream. Lightly place a bean or figurine into the cream mixture.
- Lay the second sheet of puff pastry over the first. Smooth it over with your hands to remove any air. Make it stick to the first sheet by applying light pressure with your fingers, around the edges where there is no cream.
- Make a hole in the middle of the galette so that the cake does not swell too much when cooking. Make little holes around the edges of the cake with the tip of a knife.
- Draw a design on the surface with the blunt side of a knife.
- Mix the egg yolk with the milk. Brush the entire surface with the egg-milk mixture.
- Place the cake into the oven and cook it for about 25 minutes. The cake must be beautifully golden before removing it.
- Tradition has it that the youngest child hides under the table as the cake is being cut and calls out which person gets each slice. The person who receives the bean/figurine gets to wear the crown for a day (becomes king or queen).
- Few people add a bean to the galette these days. Nowadays it is usually a ceramic figurine, which can have a religious connotation or it can be something else appropriate to the situation.
- Make sure that the trinket that is added to the cake is both food grade and heat safe. Pure white porcelain figurines should be fine. Check with your local baker or pastry specialist for ideas.
- Warn people that there is a figurine or bean hidden in the cake!
- Take special care with the young and elderly who might accidentally swallow or bite hard on the trinket if not forewarned. It is best not served to children not able to understand this, at least not until the trinket has been discovered.
Images originally produced for wikiHow. This recipe is edited from the original wikiHow article How to Make Galette Des Rois.