Here is the traditional French galette des rois recipe by French pastry chef Christophe Michalak. With the arrival of January comes a French obsession with the galette des rois —the King Cake. If you’re in Paris in January, you’ve probably noticed the galette des rois in your local boulangerie or pâtisserie!
You might wonder where the tradition of eating a king cake on Epiphany day comes from. Keep reading below to know more about this delicious French tradition for Epiphany. And make this French tradition your own with this traditional French galette des rois recipe right below.
La Galette des Rois: A French Tradition for Epiphany
The French have been serving up the galette des rois since the 14th-century. Traditionally, it’s served on January 6th (the 12th day of Christmas) to celebrate the Epiphany. This religious feast day commemorates the arrival of the Three Kings to the manger where Jesus was born. Nowadays, the French eat the galette des rois on the first Sunday of January and throughout the month of January. It’s simply a festive way to celebrate the new year with family and friends, regardless of religious background.
The French galette des rois have various shapes and flavors depending on the region and local traditions. Indeed, in northern France, the galette is made of pâte feuilleté (puff pastry) and stuffed with a dense, creamy almond paste called frangipane. In the south of France, the galette is a brioche-style cake with candied fruit. And in the Alps, the galette is a generous brioche with huge pink pralines.
Whatever the shape and flavor, the galette des rois always come with a golden paper crown and a hidden trinket (une fève) made of porcelain or plastic. During the slicing of the galette, the youngest child should slip underneath the table to call out the name of the person to receive each slice. So, the server can’t be accused of playing favorites. The entire cake should be divided such that each guest receives a slice. And the lucky guest who finds the fève in their serving becomes le Roi or la Reine and gets to wear the golden crown.
The French Galette Des Rois Recipe By Christophe Michalak
For the pastry cream:
- 125 g milk
- 60 g egg yolk
- 50 g sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 20 g cornstarch
For the frangipane cream:
- 120 g salted butter
- 120 g icing sugar
- 120 g almond powder
- 15 g cornstarch
- 2 eggs
- 2 oranges
For the decoration:
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
For the galette des rois:
- 500 g puff pastry dough
- 1 fève (to hide in the cake)
- 1 crown
Preparation of the pastry cream
- First, pour the milk into a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half, and add it to the saucepan. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, pour the egg yolks into a bowl. Add the sugar and cornstarch and mix everything well. Then, mix the preparation with the hot milk and pour everything back into the saucepan. Heat while stirring. When the cream is thick, remove the saucepan from the heat. Add some plastic wrap and let it cool.
Preparation of the frangipane
- Soften the butter by putting it in the microwave for a few moments. Add the icing sugar, the almond powder, the 2 eggs, and the cornstarch. Mix everything well. Add the orange zest to the preparation. Mix well to obtain a smooth cream. To finish, mix the frangipane cream and the pastry cream together. Let it cool.
Preparation of the galette
- Spread the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut two circles about 8 inches (20cm) in diameter. Prick the puff pastry circles with a fork.
- Place one circle of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the cream evenly over the dough (easier with a pastry bag). Leave a 1-inch (2/3cm) border bare. Press the fève into the filling. Moisten the border with cold water, position the second circle of dough over the filling, and press around the border with your fingertips to seal well. Using the back of a table knife, scallop the edges by pushing into the dough (about 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep) every 1/2 inch or so. Refrigerate for at least 4 to 5 hours.
- Lightly beat the egg. Brush a thin layer of the beaten egg over the top of the galette, avoiding the border. With the point of a paring knife, etch a design into the top of the galette, taking care not to pierce the dough. Bake the galette for between 30 to 45 minutes (oven preheated to 180°C/356°F). When the galette is puffed and deeply golden, take it out of the oven. Brush immediately with maple syrup. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes (the galette may deflate). Serve warm or at room temperature.
Et voilà! I hope you’ll enjoy this French galette des rois recipe as much as I do! If you do this recipe let me know what you think in the comment section below. Bon appétit!
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Bonjour and welcome to Leonce Chenal, a modern lifestyle platform created and curated by a French woman for lovers of everything French. I’m Leonce, born and raised near Annecy, France. Through this website, I want to share with you the passion I have for my home country and for the French art de vivre. Merci for visiting and à bientôt! —Leonce