It’s January in Paris and on the shelves and in the display cases of every patisserie and bakery you will find a Galette Des Rois (King’s Cake). The simple puff pastry shell encases a filling of delicate almond cream and a thin layer of apricot jam. Hidden inside is a small “feve”, traditionally a bean but more often a tiny figurine of the baby Jesus. The lucky finder of the feve receives a paper crown and the title of King for the day. Although Twelfth Night (January 6) is the traditional day for enjoying a King’s Cake, the French will eat their fill throughout the month.
It’s been many years since I was in Paris but every January, I remember this simple dessert and think I should make one. And now 35 years later I have done so! Now that I have, I wonder
A) What took me so long?
B) Why don’t they eat this every month of the year?
Frozen puff pastry sheets from the supermarket and easily purchased almond flour eliminate much of the work from the recipe while delivering admirable results.
The most important part of the recipe is to keep things cold.
Start with the almond cream filling.
Beat together powdered sugar and butter until it is almost white. Then add some eggs, the almond flour and flavorings. Mix it well and cool it for at least an hour but better overnight.
Once the filling has cooled, you can make the Galette. Take one sheet of puff pastry out of the refrigerator and cut a 9” circle. Use a sharp knife and try not to collapse the edges.
Put the circle on a parchment lined pan.
Spread it with jam, leaving a decent margin on the edges (1-2”).
Next remove the chilled almond cream from the refrigerator and spread this on top of the jam. Press an almond or bean into the filling .
Remove the second sheet of puff pastry from the refrigerator and cut another 9” circle.
Brush the edge of the galette base with water and top it with the second circle of puff pastry. Carefully seal the galette all the way around by pressing it closed with your finger. It is important to get a good seal all around so none of the filling leaks out during baking.
Now take the flat edge of a table knife and indent the edge of the galette at 1″ to 2” intervals all the way around.
Cover the galette and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour minutes.
When you are ready to cook the King’s Cake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Remove the galette from the refrigerator and brush it all over the top with an egg wash. Be careful not to let the egg drip down over the edges as this will prevent the puff pastry from rising.
Use a sharp knife to score the top of the cake in a decorative manner. The cuts need to be deep enough to split the top of the pastry but not deep enough to go all the way through.
Bake the cake until it is risen and golden brown.
In the way of puff pastry, some cakes will rise more than others. I made two yesterday with varying results. One was perfectly high and round. The other leaked a bit on one side with the result that that side did not rise as much. But both tasted delicious.
Once they are done, let them cool. Here again they may deflate a bit. It’s just how puff pastry is.
You can serve them warm or at room temperature. The galette is a little like a super-sized almond croissant, which gives me leeway to eat a slice for breakfast.
GALETTE DES ROIS (KING’S CAKE)
FOR THE ALMOND CREAM
- 6 tbsp butter softened
- ¾ c powdered sugar
- ¾ c almond flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 tbsp rum
- 1 tsp vanilla
FOR THE CAKE
- 1/3 c apricot jam
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- 1 small almond or bean
MAKE THE ALMOND CREAM
- Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer until almost white in color and very light. Scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the sugar is mixed in. (5 minutes)
- Beat in the almond flour and a pinch of salt.
- Beat in one whole egg and the whites of a second egg. Reserve the egg yolk.
- Add the rum and the vanilla and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to three days.
- Add 1 tsp of water to the reserved egg yolk and mix them together. Save in the refrigerator until you assemble the cake.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
- Remove one sheet of puff pastry from the refrigerator and cut a 9” circle.
- Place it on a parchment lined baking tray.
- Spread the jam over the puff pastry being careful to leave a 1-2” inch border around the edge.
- Spread the pastry cream over the jam. Press the bean (or almond) into the pastry cream.
- Remove the second sheet of puff pastry from the refrigerator and cut a second 9” circle.
- Use water to wet the rim of the bottom circle (with the filling) and lay the second circle on top of it. Use your fingers to seal around the edges. Try not to miss any of the circle. If you do, some of the filling may leak out. It won’t change the flavor of the cake, but it won’t rise as high.
- Scallop the edges of the cake by using the flat side of a knife to indent the pastry every 1-2 inches around the whole cake.
- Cover the cake and put it in the refrigerator for an hour.
BAKE THE CAKE
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Use the egg wash you saved to brush over the top of the cake. Again, be careful not to let it drip down the sides which will keep the pastry from rising.
- Take a sharp knife and score the top of the cake in a decorative pattern. Don’t cut all the way through to the filling, just score the top layer of the pastry. Poke 5-6 holes in to top to vent the steam.
- Turn the oven down to 400 degrees and bake 30-40 minutes until it is risen and golden brown. Check it after 20 minutes and if it is browning too fast, tent it with foil for the last ten minutes.
- Let it cool for 15 minutes before serving. The galette can be eaten warm or at room temperature