Thursday, January 06, 2011

My first galette of the year

In the first days of January, to mark the epiphany, French people eat a cake called une galette des rois (a kings' cake). When you buy one, it comes with a paper crown. Inside the cake is a little toy, usually a ceramic thing and these days it's often in the shape of a popular cartoon character. Whoever gets the slice with the toy (called a fève in French) is king for the day and gets to wear the crown.

The year's first galette. You can see the fève peeking through just to the right of center.

The cake is made with pâte feuilletée (flakey pastry) and is traditionally filled with frangipane (sweet almond paste). The galettes that the bakeries sell are very good, but they cost a small fortune these days, and the ones you find in the supermarkets just aren't very good at all. So a couple of years ago I decided to make my own.

The most time consuming part of the process is making the feuilletée from scratch. You can buy some already made, but I like doing it myself. I usually dedicate a day to making the dough, but I make enough to freeze and I get two or three galettes from it. I also make the frangipane, which is just ground almonds, eggs, and sugar. And, since I've saved the fèves from every galette we've bought in a bakery, I slip one of those inside my cakes.

I haven't made any pâte feuilletée yet this year because I had enough for one galette already in the freezer. So, on Monday I made one. I got a little carried away with the decoration on top and the fève actually ended up visible. No fun in that.

I'll be making more feuilletée later over the weekend and we'll eat at least a couple more galettes before the month is out. Here's a link to the one I made last year, with the recipe.


  1. The pics of the food you make/bake always look fantastic. I am often tempted to try to replicate your dishes, but I'm afraid my skills are woefully under par and I fear i will just destroy anything I attempt to make. Next visit, you are SO cooking for me at Chez Breen. Or, better yet, I'll come to you...

  2. The original fève was a dried Broad Bean [fève]... I think the dentists had something to do with the promotion of the ceramic novelties... then the French craze for collecting everything cut in... and now you can buy boxed sets of fèves!!
    The ones in our Spar [from Casino] are perhaps the closest to the original meaning, being a set of crib figurines [including the donkey]

    WV is "flime"... what the wind brought us today!

  3. Looks so beautiful. I love puff pastry which is called leveles testa in Hungarian. That means leaf pastry, just like the French name.

  4. Walt

    I have been counting the days also for my galette. You are right - they cost a small fortune. Last yr, one galette for 8 was going for $35.00 here and I wonder what the price will be this yr . I will find out on Saturday :-)
    I will have to perfect my pâte feuilletée before attempting to make my own galette.

    So Bon Appétit to both of you

  5. Trader Joe's has frozen Phitiviers.
    It is square, taste just the same. Delicious! One would just has to add the "feve".
    (Can you let CHM know that Trader Joe's also sells biscuit a la cuillere, in a box? It is a seasonal product so hopefully they still have them until the end of the monthy. I also buy few boxes at a time).

  6. Sorry! I think I type too fast.
    Month and I always buy few boxes at a time.

  7. Too bad people can't eat pictures. Yours looks delicious. Wish that I could bake like you.

  8. Nice Gateau de Roi. I baked one for the first time last year for my daughter's french-club soirée. I had a more difficult time making and decorating the paper crown (!). I did not make the pastry; I cheated and just bought filo dough. I tried to buy a feve from the french bakery in Portland (OR) but they wouldn't sell me any of theirs. Too bad there isn't a Casino Hypermarché around here.

  9. I've never had une galette des rois. That's something to look forward to, if I can ever stand the cold long enough to come back during the Christmas season.

  10. bl, either way!

    tim, I've never seen them for sale in the stores. Amazing.

    kristi, and it's so tasty in any language!

    beaver, merci and bonne dégustation !

    nadege, the Pithiviers typically is not filled. Are the ones at TJ's plain or filled, I wonder?

    ann, if I can do it, so can you! ;)

    mary, oh, that sounds good. Picard sells a pretty good frozen feuilletée here in France. I don't know about the fève, though! You can always use a dried bean, the old fashioned way...

    starman, hehehe... some things are worth braving the cold for! But you have to wait until after Christmas for the galette des rois. It's a January thing. :)

  11. Il y a un peu de pate d'amandes dans les Pithiviers de Trader Joe's. C'est bon, mais pas comme une bonne galette fraiche.

  12. The Cajuns of New Orleans, Louisiana make King Cakes as well. The one in the photo is beautiful.

  13. You ROCK!! It's absolutely AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL!!!!


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