A galette des rois (pronounced gah-let day rwa) is a flaky cake with filling that you eat on the 12th night after Christmas. The Epiphany. It honors the magi kings (rois) who came to pay homage to Jesus. And this celebration is a big deal in France. I’ll tell you more about the tradition on Thursday for my French post. Today we’re actually going to make it.
But first I need to tell you about Julie C Gardner, who wrote a review of my book here. It’s hard for me to express how much I love Julie. If you know her, you love her too. She doesn’t blog as much as she used to because she’s a full-time writer (of books), but every time a new post pops up, I always rush right over to read it because her posts are always funny and clever and beautifully written. In fact, even her comments on people’s blog posts are like that!
I’m including another one of Julie’s posts that is so brilliant I would even encourage you to read it instead of her review of my book if it weren’t for the fact that you have a chance at winning a copy by leaving a comment on the review. You may just have to read both. Her post manages to encompass humour, personal tragedy (a massive house fire), social divisions and Dickens all in one short essay – and she does it seamlessly. It’s called A Tale of Two Sirens.
But the thing that’s special about Julie is that she patiently read the first draft of my book that was so rough it wasn’t even a “book” at all. It was just a sequence of events. And she still encouraged me! She told me it was good, and encouraged me to do something I would never have thought possible – to polish the manuscript and put my words out there. For that reason, she will always hold a special place in my heart.
In honour of Julie, let’s make cake!
Pre-heat the oven to 175°C (350°F). My oven is hot, but if yours is not, you can increase it to 200°C (375°F). You need two pâte feuilletée, pre-made if you want to save time. This is a flaky pie crust that is similar to filo pastry. I made mine gluten-free (and therefore less flaky) by using a GF flour mix for 2 of the cups, then a half cup of tapioca powder, a half cup of confectioner sugar, a cup of water and an egg white. (Edited to say I forgot to mention the butter – 125 grams, or just over a half cup). You’ll need the egg yolk at the end.
Blend it up and it looks like this.
I rolled out half with plenty of tapioca flour to keep it from sticking
and transferred it over, not really minding if I had to patch it back together.
I knew I’d be covering it up with the the frangipane filling. However I put the rest of the crust in the refrigerator to get it to harden so that when I rolled that out, it would transfer smoothly.
Frangipane (pronounced frawn-gee-pahn) is a mixture of pastry cream and almond cream. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. We’re going to make both.
Okay, so for the pastry cream, take a cup of whole milk and heat it up with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder. I was able to buy the powder so I didn’t have to cut the bean. But you can substitute a teaspoon of vanilla if you don’t have it.
Whisk 3 egg yolks, 2 1/2 tablespoons of corn starch and a third cup of sugar.
When the milk is hot, pour it in slowly while you whisk it all together.
Put it back on the stove and whisk it continually until the mixture starts to thicken. It doesn’t take long.
When that’s ready, mix in 25 g butter (2T). Your pastry cream is done.
Pour that into the crust. I feel like I should excuse the tiny lumps you see in the cream. I didn’t stir continuously as I was supposed to while it was heating up because I was looking for my almond powder and realising I didn’t have enough. Don’t make that mistake. Stir constantly while it’s cooking.
Now for the almond cream. I got my recipe for that here.
You need a rounded cup and a half of ground almonds, but I only had a cup so I used that and it seemed to work. Add in a half cup sugar, 2 eggs, and 75 g softened butter (6T). Mix it all together.
Then pour that on the pastry cream.
It doesn’t really look all that different from the pastry cream actually.
Now, this is where you put the fève. I forgot to put it in. I’ll get to that in a minute. Otherwise, roll out the rest of the dough, fold it over, and use two spatulas to carry it over and place it on top of the filling.
Squeeze the crust together so the filling stays inside.
Then you can take a sharp knife and make a little design on top. Even a criss-cross will do. This helps me to hide the wrinkles, which are not supposed to be on top (but don’t worry – they will also even out in the cooking).
Okay. Now about the fève. That actually means “bean” and they are little porcelain figurines you hide inside the cake. Here are two examples.
Normally you hide it before you put the top layer of crust, but since I forgot, I’m going to slip it in. Like so.
Pat that little crust opening back together and brush on your egg yolk. (If you haven’t already). And see? You can’t tell at all that something was slipped in at the last minute.
Into the oven it goes for a half-hour.
Now that is one beautiful King’s Cake, if I do say so myself.
I don’t know how prevalent this Catholic tradition is outside of Europe (and whether or not you’re familiar with it), but the person who gets the fève is king for the day. The galette des rois in France are sold with little paper crowns for that purpose.
And here is our perfect gluten-free almond paste King’s Cake. It’s too filling to eat as a dessert, so it should be served for afternoon tea (or coffee). It’s traditionally served in France with cider – a sparkling alcoholic apple cider from Normandy/Brittany. We don’t drink alcohol, so we stick with tea.
The French will eat it every Sunday afternoon in January, and you don’t even have to be Catholic to enjoy it!
How about you? Would you like to be king for the day?
- 2 cups (gluten-free) flour mix
- 125 g butter, or just over ½ cup
- ½ cup tapioca flour
- ½ cup confectioner sugar
- 1 teaspoon large grain sea salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 egg white (save the yolk)
- Pastry Cream:
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ vanilla bean powder (or 1t vanilla extract)
- 3 egg yolks
- 2½ T corn starch
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 25 g butter (2 T)
- Almond Cream:
- 140g almond powder (1.5 cups rounded)
- 100 g sugar - ½ cup
- 2 eggs
- 75 grams softened butter (6T)
- a fève
- Preheat the oven to 175°C (200°C)
- Make the dough by blending all the ingredients in the cuisinart.
- Cover your pan with wax paper (or roll half the dough on the wax paper and transfer it over. Probably the smarter move).
- Roll half the dough and place it in the pan. Refrigerate the rest.
- For the pastry cream, heat the milk and vanilla.
- Stir the corn starch, egg yolk and sugar.
- Mix the hot milk in slowly, then transfer back to stove.
- Heat the cream until it thickens, stir without cease.
- Mix in the butter and it's ready. Pour that on pie crust.
- For the almond cream, mix all the ingredients together, and then pour that on top of the pastry cream.
- Place the fève somewhere on the cake.
- Roll out the remaining dough and cover the filling. Pinch the ends.
- Cut a design into the top and brush with egg yolk.
- Cook for a half hour, turning once if needed to avoid burning one side.