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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1 package of puff pastry (I used the Tenderflake brand 397 gm)
1/4 cup(60 gm) butter
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp(60 gm) granulated sugar/
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp(60 gm) almond flour
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp (10 gm) all-purpose flour
1 tsp milk or cream
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp water
Almond cream: Beat the butter with sugar and almond flour until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes. Add half the egg (whisking the egg will make it easier to divide it; the other half will be used for the egg wash) and almond extract. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula and whip for another minute. Add the flour slowly just until incorporated. Do not over mix at this stage. Keep the almond cream in an airtight container and it can be kept refrigerated for up to five days.
Thaw the puff pastry according to instructions on the box. Roll it out to about 1/8” (3mm) and cut out 2 circle 8” (20cm) in diameter.
Pipe the almond cream inside about 5” diameter on top of the first circle.
Prepare the egg wash: whisk the other half of the egg with milk. Brush it all around the sides of the almond cream.
Place the other circle on top and gently seal the edges to make sure the cream will not run out. Flute the sides with the back of a knife. Decorate the top by scoring it with a knife. Make a ½ slit on the top so that the steam will be able to escape.
Brush more egg wash on the top. Let rest for an hour.
(The prepared galette can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 2 weeks. When ready to use, thaw it in the fridge for 2 hours. )
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Place a parchment on top of a cookie sheet pan. Bake the galette for 15 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 350°F (175°C). And bake for another 15 minutes. By baking the puff pastry high temperature first will help it proof better.
To make the glaze: mix the corn syrup with water. Take the galette out of the oven and brush the glaze all over. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown and the glaze will melt onto the pastry.
Best served warm but still good cold.
Here's our happy king for the day (or always)!
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