Every year starting on January 6th, la galette des rois (the cake of the three kings), a cake made of frangipane (almond cream paste) and a buttery crust, is sold in patisseries all over France. These delicious cakes celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, where the three wise men came to see the baby Jesus. In certain parts of France the cake is made with brioche and filled with glazed fruit. A feve, a little china figure, is hidden inside of the cake, and whoever gets it, (without breaking a cap when biting into it) is crowned king or Queen. The cake is usually sold with a gold paper crown.
In keeping with tradition, every January I buy la galette des rois and share it with friends but this year I broke it out a little earlier and served it on January 2 since friends were visiting from New York. Vincent got the cake from Pain et des Idees bakery in the 10th.
We dispensed the ritual where the youngest person in the group or the virgin of the group has to crouch on all fours under the table and assign pieces of cake to each person, as there was no one who was French at the table. (I was relieved, as I would have been the chosen one and I was in no mood to crouch on our cold, hardwood floor).
Vincent cut the shiny-topped cake into six generous portions and after digging into the flaky crust and almond cream, we all agreed it was exceptional. We ate slowly, savoring the flavors but it seemed no one got the feve. Sometimes there are duds or the bakery forgets to include one, so we thought that was the case until finally on the last bite my friend Susie found the feve, a tiny white ceramic hen. Although I was happy Susie got the feve, I was also a bit disappointed, as I have en excellent track record for getting the feve and have gotten it the last three consecutive years.
We happily crowned Susie our Queen for 2016 and we will all be good little minions so we can be in favor with our Queen.
Here is an easy recipe to make La Galette des Rois at home. If you make it, you have to send me a piece.
La Galette des Rois (Serves 8)
Ingredients: 1 1/4 lb frozen puff pastry
7 oz almond paste
Preparation: Leave the puff pastry at room temperature for about 2 hours until defrosted but still cold.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with baking parchment or grease the pan and lightly sift flour on it. Shake off any excess flour. Roll each sheet of pastry into a circle about 12 inches across. Place one circle on the prepared pan.
Mix the egg with the almond paste until smooth and spread the mixture evenly on the prepared circle of pastry, leaving a border 1 1/2 inches wide all around. If you have a small piece of china, insert it into the almond mixture (you may also use a bean as the fève.) The person who gets the fève is the King or Queen. Place the second circle of pastry on top and press it down tightly around the rim.
Beat lightly the remaining egg and brush it on the top of the cake. With a long-bladed knife, press lightly but firmly through the egg glaze marking a crisscross pattern.
Bake for 20–25 minutes until golden and puffed. Do not check for doneness for at least 15 minutes, as the pastry may collapse. Serve slightly warm or cold.
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New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
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Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
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Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
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