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Guru

La Galette des Rois: a cake fit for a king!


Photo by Yuichi Sakuraba

Growing up in France, there are certain traditions you can’t avoid (and why would you?!): Bastille Day, fresh baguettes in the morning, wine at every meal…

France being a very catholic country, it’s also quite hard to avoid religious holidays (especially as they are usually bank holidays). Now I’m not religious but I must say that as a kid, my favourite of these holidays was Epiphany.

The 6th of January, 12 days after Christmas, is traditionally when the three kings were supposed to have visited Jesus in his crib and brought him three gifts:

  • Myrrh (made from the sap of a particular tree which smells amazing and can be used as anointing oil)
  • Frankincense (used as a perfume)
  • Gold (it’s shiny and comes in quite handy…)

In memory of this day is born a scrumptious French tradition: la galette des rois – which translates as the cake of kings! Made from pastry and a frangipane mix, it’s the perfect warmer for those cold January afternoons. And it even comes with its own game: hidden somewhere inside the cake is what the French call a fève (traditionally a small figure from the Epiphany story).

The cake is cut into slices at the table, when the youngest person has to hide under the table (or close their eyes if you don’t have any kid who wants to play) and they decide which slice goes to who. Whoever gets the ‘fève’ in their slice is ‘King’ (or Queen) for the day!

My fingers are crossed I get to wear the crown tonight…

La galette des rois (King Cake) Recipe

Ingredients

2 rolls of ready-made puff pastry
4 eggs
200g powdered almonds
200g sugar
200g unsalted butter
2 drops of almond extract
2 tablespoons of dark rum
1 tablespoon of milk

Method

  • Melt the butter in the microwave for 20 seconds or work it with a fork so it’s creamy
  • Add the sugar and beat lightly
  • Add the powdered almonds and mix till an even finish
  • Lightly beat three of the eggs and add them to the mix with the almond extract and rum
  • Beat well
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour
  • Pre-heat the oven at 200°C (Gas mark 6)
  • Mix the last egg with the milk
  • Lay out a disc of puff pastry on a non-stick oven rack
  • Wet  an inch of the outside edges with the egg and milk mix
  • Add the almond crème mix on the rest of the pastry without touching the wet edges
  • Hide a fève (or a coin for instance) inside the almond mix, preferably nearer the outside
  • Layer the second puff pastry disk on top and fix both together tightly around the edges, using the bottom pastry to wrap a little around the top
  • Draw a design on the surface (I usually go for a crisscross pattern but be as creative as you want!)
  • Cover the top pastry with the rest of the egg and milk mix making sure it’s well covered
  • Refrigerate for 30 mins
  • Then cook for around 25 mins or till the galette is golden

Serve and enjoy!

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This article was written for the online version of Guru Magazine, in which I have been running a series as Food Guru on ‘Do-It-Yourself: Molecular Gastronomy‘ – showing you how to mix a bit of scientific know-how  with some culinary passion! Up in Issue 4 – the secrets behind the psychology of eating are revealed…

Read the latest issue of Guru here, or check out the back issues here.

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About me

Hi! My name is Natacha - I'm a research scientist and a lover of all things science! I love finding out interesting facts about all aspects of life, whether it's how genetic engineering works or what the difference between crimped and straight hair is. There's a bit of science behind every mystery and the Science Informant will help find the clues for everyone to enjoy and understand the amazing world of science!
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