Sunday, January 07, 2018


This time of year, French people like to eat a special pastry called une galette des rois (kings' cake) in reference to the three kings in the biblical epiphany story. The "cake" is made with flaky pastry and filled with frangipane (almond paste). They're available in all the supermarkets and bakeries during the month of January, but I find them to be too expensive for what they are. Cheap galettes are not very good because they're often made with some shortening other than butter.

My "epiphany" came when I realized I could make this cake myself.

So, I've learned to make my own galettes over the years. It's not difficult, but it does require some time to make the flaky pastry. Of course, the pastry can be bought ready-made in the supermarket, but I figure if I'm going to make my own galette, I should make the pastry, too. The technique I use for making the dough comes from a French television chef and I've been using it now for eight or nine years. Here's a link to a post I did in 2012 on making the dough.

The first step is to make what the chef called une détrempe with flour, water, and a little salt. After that rests for 30 minutes, it gets rolled out into a rectangle shape. A block of cold butter is rolled into a smaller rectangle shape (between two sheets of plastic wrap) and placed onto the dough. The dough is then folded over the butter and the whole thing is folded again, put in plastic, and then into the refrigerator to rest for another 30 minutes. After resting, the dough is rolled out lengthwise, then folded in thirds and put back away to rest. This step gets repeated five or six times. The goal is to make multiple layers of flour and butter that will puff up when baked.

When it's time to bake the cake, I roll the dough out and cut two circles (using a plate). The almond filling goes onto the center of one of the circles, the outer edge gets painted with beaten egg so that the two layers seal, then the other circle is put on top. I use a sharp knife to cut a pattern on the top of the cake, then paint the top with more beaten egg to make it brown well. The cake then goes into a hot oven for about 30 minutes.

I usually put a little ceramic figure inside the cake (collected from bakery cakes bought in years past). Whoever gets the slice with the ceramic figure inside is crowned king for the day. Commercial cakes actually come with a paper crown. I got the fève, as it's called, in my slice yesterday.


  1. Like everything that comes out of your kitchen, that's a work of art and looks so delicious. I didn't buy a roscon de reyes this year; now I think I need to find one. Not the same as galette des rois but it will have to do.

  2. Your cake is beautiful. I like the design on top. I guess you just scored it that way. Yes, chm Long live the King!

  3. What a beautiful cake that is! Though more like a beautiful pastry...I love reading about cooking things and Ken doesn't seem to do any more such posts. Nor have the variety he used to. I hope he will return to that someday.

  4. all hail king walt! looks dee-lish (holds out plate for a slice)!

  5. Do the French people go to Epiphany mass too?

  6. Your description makes it sound so easy, just two rounds of pastry and a glop of almond paste. Ha! Lovely cake.
    re your comment yesterday on gluten-free pizza: Here are two titles of baking books that are useful. Neither is very new, so they make reference to mixing your own flours, which may not be needed now, depending on how cautious you need to be.
    Gluten-Free Baking -- Rebecca Reilly (Simon & Schuster 2002)
    Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America -- Richard Coppedge (Adams Media 2008)
    I won't have time for pizza for the next few weeks, but I'll try your version when I can.


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