It has become a tradition in our house to bake two "Galettes des Rois" or "Dreikönigskuchen" ("King Cakes") every year for the "Fête des Rois" or "Dreikönigstag" (" Festival of Epiphany") on the 6th of January.
Epiphany is widely celebrated in France by serving this type of cake. It originated in the tiny village of Pithiviers, about eighty kilometers south of Paris, and was brought to the city by Marie Antoine Carême. Hidden in the pillow of puff pastry is a delightfully moist almond cream. Take care when baking that the puff pastry does not overcook while the almond cream is still uncooked.
While I translate "Galette des Rois" or "Dreikönigskuchen" with "King Cake", this French puff pastry cake is quite different in taste from the sweet and colorful yeast cakes served on Fat Tuesday during Mardi Gras season in New Orleans or the "King Cakes" baked in other parts of the world, such as Spain or Portugal, to name but a few. But all those "King Cakes" are baked to honor the Three Wise Men and contain a small figurine, almond, bean or even a coin wrapped in foil.
Recipe for "Galette des Rois" - "Dreikönigskuchen"
- 500 grams (17 1/2 ounces) puff pastry (of course, feel free to make your own puff pastry)
Ingredients for the Filling
- 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) superfine (caster) sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 30 grams (1 ounce) AP (plain) flour
- 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) ground almonds (I always leave the skins on before grinding the almonds)
- beaten egg wash
Optional Addition to the Filling
- Small porcelain figurine/whole almond/bean or coin wrapped tightly in a small piece of aluminium foil
Ingredients for the Glaze
- some apricot jam (strained)
- 60 grams (2 ounces) flaked almonds
Preparation of the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out the pastry and cut two 23 cm (9 inches) circles. Chill while preparing the filling.
- Beat the butter and sugar until creamy, light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolk and beat for three minutes.
- Beat in the flour and the ground almonds.
- Place one of the pastry circles on the prepared baking sheet and brush a 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) border of egg wash around the edge of the pastry circle.
- Place the filling in the center, keeping it inside the egg wash border, and shape it into a mound 2 cm (3/4 inches) high in the middle. NOTE: If you would like to add a figurine, nut, bean or coin, do it now by gently pushing it into the filling and procced with the recipe.
- Top with the second pastry circle.
- Crimp around the edge with your fingertips or use the tines of a fork.
- Use a small sharp knife to lightly mark lines on top of the pastry.
- Brush with beaten egg wash.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until both base and top are baked and transfer to a wire rack.
- Brush top and sides with apricot glaze and sprinkle sides/border with flaked almonds.
Of course, the person who finds the small porcelain figurine in his or her piece of cake gets to wear the golden paper crown that is placed on top of the cake after it has cooled and been glazed with some apricot jam. - King or Queen for a day!