It’s time for Galette des Rois. A French cake that celebrates the holiday of Epiphany, the day when the Three Kings visited the baby Jesus. As part of the tradition, a bean is hidden in the cake and the person who finds the bean is crowned as King of the Day with a paper crown.
Setting religion aside, this pastry is also known as a Pithivier, which makes for decadent special breakfast or brunch treat. Essentially, it’s puff pastry filled with an almond cream and glazed with apricot jam. It’s easier to make than it is to pronounce.
If you’re a planner, you can even make the almond cream up to two days ahead and assemble the pastry roughly an hour before serving.
But will it look and taste like it does from a patisserie? Oui, yes it will.
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Galette des Rois (Kings’ Cake)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup almond flour (almond meal)
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon rum
- 1/4 cup apricot jam
- On medium speed, with a handheld or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar
- Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time (save the third egg for later use)
- On low-speed, mix in the rum, almond meal and flour until just incorporated. Scrape down the bowl’s edges as needed
- Cover and place almond cream in refrigerator until ready for use (up to two days in advance is fine)
Preparing the Gallette des Rois (or Pithivier)
- Thaw or defrost the puff pastry according to manufacturer’s instructions (or make your own)
- Pre-heat your oven to 400F (204C)
- On parchment paper, roll out two pieces of puff pastry dough, and using a plate as a guide, cut out a 9-inch (23 cm) and 10-inch (25cm) circle. Do not discard the extras
- Refrigerate the larger circle
- Using the scraps, cut a 1/2 inch (1 cm) ribbon of puff pastry. Using multiple pieces is fine
- Lightly wet the smaller circle’s outer perimeter with water using your finger or a brush. Gently lay the ribbon of puff pastry on the outer edge of the circle (on top of the water you just placed)
- NOTE: If at any point during this recipe the puff pastry becomes difficult to handle, give it a “time out” in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes).
- Fill the smaller circle with the almond cream, and spread it out evenly, but staying in rounds of the ribbon you created
- With your finger or a brush, lightly wet the ribbon of puff pastry with water
- Remove the larger circle from the refrigerator and cut a small circle in the center to serve as a steam hole
- Place the larger circle of puff pastry over the smaller circle that you filled with almond cream. Gently press the outer edge to seal all three layers together
- To further seal the pastry, use your fingers or your fingers and a flat (non-cutting) utensil to crimp the edges all around.
- Using paring knife, create decorative patterns across the entire pastry
- In a small bowl, create an egg wash by beating the remaining egg and a tablespoon of water with a fork. Brush the egg wash over the pastry, but avoid the crimped edges
- Pre-heat your oven to 400F (204)
- Place the pastry in the refrigerator for 30 minutes
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until pastry is golden brown all over. Let cool
- Heat apricot jam in a small sauce pan with a splash of water. Strain out any fruit lumps and brush the jam over the cooled pastry