French Food | Recipes

Traditional French King Cake Recipe: Galette des Rois

January 5, 2016
Traditional French King Cake: La Galette des Rois - Bits of Bri

Time for one of my favorite French desserts! As Epiphany usually rolls around this time of year I decided to do a little cultural sharing of this tasty and glorious tradition making a French “king cake” – galette des rois.

Epiphany is a Christian festival that honors the coming of the three kings to baby Jesus Christ (thanks Merriam-Webster) 😉 Since many French families are Catholic, they also celebrate Epiphany.  One of the traditions around this time is to make the delicious and fun galette des rois.

This traditional recipe is so easy and simple to do. The first time I helped make it was also my first time visiting France – Christmas 2012.

 I will never forget those three weeks learning all about the French food culture thanks to Paul’s wonderful family! Since 2012 until this Christmas 2015, I’ve spent each year surrounded by amazing folks and French food.  This year we spent Christmas in Nepal (that’s one to remember!)

Anyways, that’s for another story time.  So to get right to it, here is what ingredients you will need in order to start making the traditional French king cake recipe.

Ingredients for une galette des rois

  • 2 pie crusts
    • Either pre-made or homemade
  • 2 eggs
    • 1 for the frangipane mixture and 1 to brown the crust
  • 100-150 grams of almond powder
    • Or we always use crushed whole/halved almonds at home
  • 100 grams of sugar
    • We use white, but some people prefer using a mixture of white, brown, or powdered sugar
  • 50-100 grams of softened butter
    • Some like more, some less – it’s up to you!
  • 1-3 drops of almond extract (optional)
  • and last but not least, you need a fève!

In my experience, a fève (or bean) nowadays is a porcelain little figurine that is normally used to represent baby Jesus, but now families are beginning to substitute for other nativity figures or cartoon characters. One Christmas we also used the wise men and a cute little donkey. You place the fève somewhere inside the cake and let it cook.

Tradition would have it that whoever finds the figurine inside their slice of cake takes on the role of the “king” and must wear a golden crown (usually made out of paper or thin cardboard as seen in the picture below).

The first time I ate galette des rois I was lucky enough to find the figurine and be crowned king while we ate… Though I am pretty sure that it was all set up without me knowing just to give me a good first experience 🙂 (That’s how cute Paul’s parents are. Love ’em).

Traditional French King Cake: La Galette des Rois - Bits of Bri
“KingCakesMadelineFrench” by Infrogmation of New Orleans – Photo by Infrogmation. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Directions for une galette des rois

  • Preheat oven to 425 °F or 210-220 °C
  • Place 1 pie crust in a pie tin / baking tray and make some tiny holes with a fork
  • Mix all the above ingredients in a big bowl
  • Spread the mixture all over the bottom of the 1st pie crust, and place the fève somewhere for some lucky person to find
    • Tip: place the fève on the edges to avoid hitting it while cutting and serving. Plus it makes it more difficult to find! People will be almost finished eating their slice thinking, “Oh, I guess my slice doesn’t have it” when.. surprise! 
  • Now you can cover the cake with the 2nd pie pastry.  Make sure to press down around the edges to close it!
  • Design the top of the cake however you like with a knife (optional)
  • Gently brush on the beaten egg (can dilute in some water)
  • Poke some holes in the top of the cake (otherwise the cake is at risk to swell and become dry).
  • Place in oven and set time for 25 minutes.  Sometimes it can take up to 40 minutes.  Remember to survey it often.
  • Let cool, and enjoy!

Final thoughts: Traditional French King Cake Recipe: Galette des Rois

Hope your galette des rois was a delicious success! Don’t hesitate to share your photos, thoughts, and comments with me below! Especially if you were the lucky one to find the “baked in surprise” 😉

Thank you for reading and following Bits of Bri! If you haven’t already, go check out my other “bits” under my blog and while you’re there do me a BIG favor and like Bits of Bri’s new Facebook page, or you can access it here.  Every “like” counts!

MERCI!

♥ BriTraditional French King Cake Recipe: Galette des Rois

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