Galette des Rois and Mardi Gras

January 6th is, for most folks, just another day in January. For some, it’s the official end of the Christmas season, the day to throw out your Christmas tree. For my folks in Louisiana, January 6th, or Epiphany, marks the beginning of the Mardi Gras season. Today people in much of the French diaspora celebrate the visit of the wise men to the baby Jesus. I’m not what you would call a religious person, but I will never turn down an occasion to celebrate– especially if it involves cake.

There are so many wonderful foods that I associate with the Mardi Gras season in Louisiana (king cake, jambalaya, calas, beignets, and of course, gumbo), and I plan on making every one of them for y’all this year. But today I’m going to focus on a traditionally French confection, the galette des rois.

I love these cakes because they combine three of my favorite things: puff pastry, sweet almond paste, and prizes! The galette des rois is pretty common to northern France (in southern France, the gâteau des rois looks a little different), and around this time of year French bakeries go all out in the making and selling of these cakes. Inside every galette, you’ll find a tiny prize, or fève. Fèves can range from a simple almond or dry bean to some of the most beautiful tiny porcelain figures you can imagine. If your slice of galette contains the fève, you’re crowned king or queen for the day. You can see why this tradition is fun for the whole family, right?

Now, I grew up eating king cakes from Louisiana which are pretty different from galettes des rois. And while I’ve made king cakes before, this is my first galette. I’m using David Lebovitz’s recipe because he keeps the measurements pretty clear and also because he’s a huge fan of French food and an all-around talented dude.

 

When I finished making the filling I kind of freaked out because it looked like there was way too much for just one galette. I then calmly reassured myself that vertical height is a good thing and that a great many soft substances thicken up when you chill them overnight. So after assembling my galette, I chilled it overnight. Lebovitz says that if you’re worried about any of the filling leaking out, you can mix a little corn starch into it. I decided that I didn’t need to add anything extra. This was a mistake.

When I took my galette out of the oven it had an almond filling tail. I didn’t take a pic for y’all because I was ashamed. Luckily, the filling explosion baked really nicely and was easy to just pull off of the rest of the galette.

I probably should have etched my designs deeper into the crust, but I didn’t want to fully puncture the dough. I think it still looks nice though.

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If you’re making this with a kid or kids in the house, it is customary to let the youngest one dictate who gets which piece. Don’t forget to chew carefully as you eat, there may be a fève lurking in your piece. I used a walnut in mine and accidentally cut it in half! I guess that means my boyfriend and I are both royalty for the day.

Hope you enjoy! Bonnes fêtes y’all!!

 

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