Tomorrow is the sixth of January which means it’s Epiphany which means you should be eating Kings’ Cake or galette des rois as it is called en français. The significance of this day is that it commemorates the magi who journeyed to see the infant Jesus. Upon their arrival these three kings, Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, presented their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh which they had carried from afar. To express their gratitude, Mary and Joseph offered the wise men slices of a puff pastry dessert filled with frangipane and also a hidden trinket. The first wise man to find the charm got to wear a paper crown. Not really, but that’s what galette des rois is and it’s delicious. Traditionally, it is a puff pastry cake filled with almond cream but of course there are always variations on a theme. Raymond Blanc adds poached pears to his. Some people add chocolate. Others, apricot jam. I am partial to rum and orange zest. But I’ve been thinking. . . I bet it’d be really good with cherries. I guess I’ll have to make another to see. Until then, here is my recipe as it stands.
NB: You can use store bought puff pastry if you like (just make sure it’s all butter!) or you can make your own. I have a cheat’s way inspired by Nigella then made even lazier by me. But it works! So who cares? A little helpful heresy never hurt anyone.
Ingredients for the puff pastry:
250 g of strong white flour + a little extra for rolling
250 g of cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes (I chill mine in the freezer for 15 minutes)
a pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of ice water (or vodka that’s been kept in the freezer)
a squeeze of lemon juice
Method: Put the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Pulse only a couple of times. Pour in the water and lemon juice. Pulse again until just combined. Dump the dough onto a counter and bring it together with your hands. You should still be able to see small chunks of butter. The dough should look marbled with it. Form the dough into a disk. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
At this point, remove it from the fridge. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Roll the dough into a long rectangle. Now roll it up like a chocolate log or a jelly roll. Cover it with plastic once more and put it back in the fridge for another half hour.
Then repeat this again. Believe me. If you do it correctly, you will get layers. You’ll see the lamination.
Ingredients for the frangipane:
80 g unsalted room temperature butter
80 g ground almonds
80 g icing sugar (this is powdered sugar in America)
1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp rum
1/2 tsp almond extract
the zest or 1 orange or 2 clementines
Method: You can whisk this by hand or use a mixer to combine the ingredients. The consistency you need is that of a thick paste. Cover it and put it in the fridge until it is needed.
Ingredients for the glaze:
1 egg + 1 yolk + 1 tsp of heavy cream. Mix thoroughly with a fork in a small bowl.
To construct the galette:
Take your puff pastry out of the refrigerator. Cut in in half. Roll out a large circle. Take a dinner plate and turn it upside on the pastry. Cut around it with a knife. Set this aside. Roll out a second circle and repeat. Set these two pastry rounds back in the refrigerator to chill for another hour.
Then take a large piece of baking paper. Place one of the pastry rounds on it. Spread your frangipane in the middle of it. Leave about a half inch to 3/4 of an inch of space at the edges. If you want to place a small metal or ceramic charm in the galette, now is the time to do so.
Paint a bit of your egg glaze around the edge.
Place the second pastry round on top of the galette. Press a finger around the circumference of the pastry to seal it.
Lightly paint the top of the galette with some more egg glaze. There is no need to use it all. This will just make it soggy.
Now, take the dull side of a knife and use it to pull the indentations you just made into scallop shapes. Lightly score the top of the pastry with a design of your choice. There are many. Google one. Personally, I’m keen on flowers but you can also make stars or chevrons. Once this is finished, place it back in the refrigerator for another hour. I know this is a lot of refrigerator time, but trust me. You do not want the butter to melt in your pastry dough. Those layers of cold butter create desired flakiness.
Preheat the oven to Gas4/180°C/350°F and put a pizza stone or the lid of a large Dutch oven on the middle shelf.
Once the oven is ready, remove the stone. Carefully place the baking paper with the galette on it onto the stone. Put this in the oven and bake it for approximately 45 minutes or until golden.
Don’t worry if you discover that your galette leaked butter. Mine often do. If this is the case, don’t fret. Turn off the oven. Then carefully transfer the galette to a wire rack and place it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so. It will crisp.
Allow your galette to cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve with tea or strong coffee (or cognac) and enjoy.