Gastronomy

Published on January 9th, 2015 | by Anne-Fleur Andrle Stephan

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La galette des Rois: where is this coming from?

The Galette des Rois (King’s cake) is a not-to-be-missed meeting (Yes, that much!) of the season in early January. Who said the French did not treat their kings right ? The first Sunday of January, gourmet customers run to the bakery to get their precious treats, to share with family, friends or even alone for the greediest.

Enfant et fève

A porcelain figurine. Photo by Photo-Alsace.com.

This famous cake celebrates the Epiphany, the arrival of the Magi. Every year on January 6th, we are left to “draw the kings” (literally “tirer les rois”)! Traditionally, the youngest person in attendance goes under the table (in theory, it is the most innocent person) and assigns each piece of the cake to the people sitting around the table. This distribution is particularly important because the cake contains the famous figurine: la fève! At first this figuring was a bean or a dried fruit, and over the years was replaced during the 19th century by the porcelain’s characters, and now also with plastic figurines. Today, there are so many different beans that collecting has become a popular hobby and collectors are going crazy about it!

48373451

The brioche with candied fruit and scented blossom orange. Photo by Canalblog.com.

Depending on the regions of France, the recipe of the Galette des Rois is slightly different. In the North, it is made of golden puff pastry accompanied by different jams or even stuffed with fruit, chocolate, etc., while in the South it is more of a brioche with candied fruit and scented blossom orange. For the anecdote, it seems that in the South, the “northern” cake on Frangipane (almond) is pejoratively called “Parisienne” (Parisian)! Alright, there may not be as much different types of galettes as the French have cheese, but there are still many different recipes!

They can be found in the United States, in gourmet store and some bakeries, but for a friendlier tasting’s atmosphere, it is also easy to make yourself! So, I decided to share with you a recipe I tried myself and fell in love with from marmiton.org: http://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_galette-des-rois_10832.aspx

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Ingredients (serves 6):
– 2 puff pastry
– 100 g ground almonds
– 75 g of sugar
– 1 egg
– 50 g soft butter
– A few drops of pure almond extract
– 1 egg yolk
– 1 bean (or figurine, or whichever item you think is appropriate)!

Preparation of the recipe:
• Arrange one of the puff pastry in a pie pan, poke with a fork.
• Mix in a bowl all the ingredients (almond powder, sugar, egg, soft butter, almond extract).
• Spread the contents of the bowl over the dough, put the “fève” (on one edge, to minimize the chances of finding it right away when cutting the cake!).
• Close the cake with the 2nd puff pastry and “seal” the edges well.
• Draw with a knife over (look up designs on Internet!) and brush the egg yolk (diluted in a little water) on top. Poke small holes on the top to allow air to escape, or it may swell and dry out.
Bake at 210°C (410°F) for about 30 minutes (monitor baking after 25 minutes, but do not hesitate to leave up to 40 minutes if necessary).

How about you? Are you going to “draw the Kings” this year? Which tradition(s) do you follow? Will you try to bake it yourself? Share your recipes, tips, photos and experiences with us!

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About the Author

Coming from the "Far west" of France, Anne-Fleur grew up in Finistere (Brittany). Currently working in the hightech industry, she represents a French company specialized in smartglasses apps in the US. Engineer by training and based in Boston, she loves to get back to her Briton roots a couple of times a year. After graduating from the Université de Technologie de Compiegne, in France , she decided to pursue her studies in biomedical sciences at the graduate school of the State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo, NY. Driven by sciences and her desire to learn, Anne-Fleur hosted a radio show, "les échos de l'innovation" (literally innovation echoes) for a couple of years, offering debates and interviews, aiming to dissect misconceptions in science and technologies for the layman. Always thirsty for discovery, she loves traveling, initiating new projects and exploring the ocean, on a sailing boat or with her snorkel.



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