Friday, March 25, 2011

Galette des Rois

Galette des rois ("King Cake") - a traditonal French cake

This delicious French pastry filled with almond cream has a bit of history linked to it.

The French tradition of serving a frangipane filled tart known as the ’galette des rois’ (or the ’gateau des rois’ in the South of France) on, or around the 6th January, (the first Sunday of each New Year) actually dates back to the 14th century.

The festival takes place around Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas, when the wise men visited baby Jesus. According to tradition, the ‘galette des rois’, was to "draw the kings" to the Epiphany. It goes rather well with a cup of tea or a glass or two of white wine. It is traditionally divided into enough portions for all the people present plus one more for the first poor person that passes by. A lucky charm (une fève - originally a bean but now more often a plastic trinket) is baked inside the galette, and whoever receives the fève is crowned king or queen for the day. 

Source: P-O Life

A lovely almond cream filling encased in thin, crisp and buttery layers of pastry

If you're using ready-made frozen puff pastry, then making this is really easy. The filling is basically made from almond meal, butter, sugar and eggs. The recipe I used is from a cookbook by Raymond Blanc, in which he adds a little rum or cognac to the almond cream. I wanted to make sure the kids could eat this too, so I omitted the alcohol but added a few drops of rosewater instead, which makes a beautiful combination. This galette is best served warm when the pastry is still crisp, but also tastes great at room temperature. Otherwise, just pop it in a warm oven for a few minutes before serving.

Score the pastry with whatever designs you fancy!