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After the Christmas holidays, it is not unusual to see the Bûche de Noël being replaced by the Galette des Rois in some old school French patisseries here in Quebec. It is traditional to serve in France and Quebec this special cake to celebrate the Epiphany or the Feast of the Three Kings which falls on the 6th of January.
The galette des rois consists of pâte feuilletée or puff pastry filled with almond cream. It is usually served with a golden crown and a trinket, la fève, hidden inside. It is also known as Pithivier served sans crown outside the religious holidays. It is the French version of the King cake served in southern US.
Tradition has it, a fève or a bean is hidden inside the cake and the person that gets the bean obtains the crown and declared king or queen for the day. The bean was eventually replaced with a porcelain or plastic trinket. The cake is cut in portions as the amount of people in the household. To make the service even more random, the youngest member of the family hides under the table and calls out the name of the person for each piece that is being served. Whoever gets to be the king or queen, they are also expected to provide the next galette des rois.
It has come to my mind to make the puff pastry from scratch but decided against it when I remembered from my pastry school days how time consuming it is to make it. So I sauntered off the frozen section isle of the grocery and got me a frozen puff pastry. The rest is really easy to make.
The dough I got came in two divided pieces, which was perfect for the galette. To start, roll out the two pieces of dough just big enough to cut out an 8” circle. Sometimes the puff pastry is sold already rolled out so no need to take out the rolling pin.
Here I used an 8” circle pan and cut the shape out with a sharp knife.
Pipe the almond cream on top of the first circle. Make sure there is plenty of border around the almond cream.
Take the egg wash and brush around the cream. Place the bean or trinket inside, ideally more on the outer edge of the cream.
Place the second circle of dough on top and press all around the sides to seal it and prevent the almond cream from running out. Take the back of the knife and flute the sides to seal it further and to decorate it as well. Add a small slit on the top for the steam to escape.
To decorate the top use a sharp knife to score it lightly being careful not to tear it. Shown here is the classic pattern but you can decorate it as you wish.
Please make sure you warn the people eating this cake that there is a bean or trinket hidden inside their piece and to look out for it. You don’t want them biting into the hard bean and crack their teeth or choke or something.
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Here's our happy king for the day (or always)!
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