It’s January in France- the buzzing and festive time of year when every boulangerie window in France is filled with impressive displays of the traditional French pastry called la “Galette des Rois” – literally translated as “Kings Cake” or “The Cake of three kings.”
Starting from January 6th, this delicious, flaky pastry with a delicate buttery crust is traditionally filled with frangipane (almond cream paste), and in the south of France, you will also find a brioche-like version filled with glazed fruit called Gateau des Rois. The Galette des Rois celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, when the three wise men came to see the baby Jesus.
Tradition has it that a lucky charm- a small porcelain figurine (originally a small fève or bean), is buried in the almond cream before the top layer of puff pastry seals the cake and baked into the galette, then whoever is lucky enough to find it in their slice, is crowned King for the day and granted the honor of wearing the golden crown (The galettes are always sold with a cardboard gold crown purely to serve this purpose and tradition)- so it’s not just the children who get to have all the fun!
So, if you’re not in France and can’t get your hands on a traditional Galette des Rois this January, or you just simply want the fun and pleasure of making your own, as promised here is a brilliant recipe from our favorite Parisian baker whose Galettes are selling like hotcakes in Paris right now- the talented Gontran Cherrier. Gontran has generously shared the delicious recipe for his popular lemon and pistachio Galette- as shown in the pics below. The lemon and pistachio galette is a wonderful balance and combination of flavors, with the delicate pistachio nutty pistachio complimented by small bursts of citrus flavor from the candied lemon in a smooth but not overly sweet paste which is nestled between layers and layers of perfectly crafted feuilleté pastry. Divine!
The recipe does not include making the puff pastry from scratch, but if you really want to have a go at making your own pastry (and I highly recommend you give it a go), here are some great resources to guide you in the right direction:
A French-American mother and daughter team teach us how to make the galette from scratch, straight from their kitchen (video in English).
You can make either the traditional ‘frangipane’ version simply with ground almonds, or experiment with different flavors such as the lemon and pistachio, or try other non-traditional aromatic additions such as candied orange zest and sweet spices like cinnamon.
Gontran Cherrier’s Mediterranean Galette des Rois with Lemon and Pistachio
Galette des Rois- la Mediterranenne avec crème d’amande, pistache et citron confit
Serves 6 – 8
2 discs of puff pastry- 24 cm in diameter.
50g finely ground pistachios
20g finely ground almonds
10g plain flour
10 g candied lemon peel
1 pinch sea salt/fleur de sel
Preheat oven to 200 ° C.
Soften butter to a spreadable consistency. Add the caster sugar in mixer and whisk until it whitens ‘creams’ to form a thick texture.
Add the egg and continue mixing until smooth and combined.
Add the ground pistachio and almond flour and mix well.
Finely chop the candied lemon and add to the mixture.
Prepare a flat baking tray with a layer of baking paper. Place one of the discs of puff pastry on the baking sheet. Using a baking brush wet a 2-3 cm perimeter edge on the pastry disc with water.
Spoon the almond pistachio mixture into the middle of the pastry disc and spread out the mixture, stopping 3 cm’s from the edge. Strategically place your ‘fève’s’ (you can also use one or 2 cent coins) into the almond mixture. Gently place the second disc of puff pastry over the top, and using the back of a knife held vertically at 45 °, press and seal together the 3cm edge of the two pastry sheets. Gently etch a design of your choice into the top disc of pastry using the edge of a knife.
Beat the egg with a pinch of salt. Use the pastry bush to spread on a thin layer of egg glaze of over the top disc of pastry.
Bake for approx 25 minutes, until puffy and golden.
Move the galette from the tray and baking paper and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Invite your friends and family to the table
Cut your galette into even slices for everyone
Eat with caution…