How to make Galette des Rois - Traditional Cake in France?

Galette des Rois. Photo: cordonbleu

What Is Galette des Rois?

Galette des Rois, or King Cake, is a sweet almond-flavored custard-filled pastry that has been around for around 700 years!

Traditionally, the pastry is served on the 12th day of Christmas, January 6th, to celebrate the Ephiphany. Ephiphany is a Christian feast day celebrating the Three Kings arriving at the manger where Jesus was born. Now, it’s eaten throughout January (and sometimes December) to celebrate the holiday season and the new year.

Serving this cake is also special. Inside a galette des Rois is a “feve” (a fava bean, but now it is more likely to be a whole almond or a plastic figurine). Whoever discovers the “feve” is the king (“le roi”) or the queen (“la reine”) for the day! This is why you see a golden crown on top of my galette des rois!

In some families, the person who gets the feve is in charge of bringing the galette des rois to the party next year, too, according to Biggerbolderbaking.

How To Make Galette des Rois


How to make Galette des Rois - Traditional Cake in France?
Photo: cookingwithmorgane

Almond cream

2 eggs

100g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter at room temperature

45g cocoa powder (sugar-free)

100g almond flour

Pastry cream

2 egg yolks

250 ml milk

25g flour (may be replaced by cornflour)

50g sugar

For assembling

1 egg beaten to glaze

1 lucky charm and 1 crown

2 rolls puff pastry

READ MORE: TOP 10 Best Delicious Traditional Cakes Around the World

Main Steps

How to make Galette des Rois - Traditional Cake in France?
Photo: frenchtarte

Preparing the pastry cream

Bring the milk to a boil. At the first broth, remove from the heat. Blanch egg yolks with sugar. Add flour and stir. Pour in the hot milk into the egg-sugar-flour mixture constantly whisking. Pour back into the saucepan and heat rapidly while whisking energetically.

Once it thickens, continue to whisk, for about 1 minute from the time it starts to boil. When the pastry cream is ready, remove it from the heat and pour it into a bowl so that it will stop cooking.

Cover with clingfilm, with the film touching the surface of the cream so that the cream will stay evenly, without a harder part on the top. Let it cool.

Prepare the almond cream

Mix together butter and sugar using a spatula until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix. Then add the almond flour and cocoa powder and fold until they are well mixed.

Make the frangipane. Fold the pastry cream and the almond cream together, here flavored with chocolate.

Assemble the cake

Place the first disc of puff pastry on a baking tray covered with a sheet of parchment paper.

Using a piping bag (or a spatula) cover the puff pastry with a thick layer of frangipane making sure to leave a margin on the outside (about 2 to 3 centimeter - 1 inch).

Don’t forget to place the lucky charm somewhere in the frangipane filling.

Glaze with water or a beaten egg using a pastry brush (or your fingers).

Cover with the second disc of puff pastry, then press all around so that the two pastries are well sealed.

Using the back of a knife, pinch the edges of the two pastry discs, making a small incision every 1 centimeter, all around. This is to make sure the filling doesn’t run while baking.

Glaze with beaten egg and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Then you can decorate! You can make strips, rounds, flowers… the top of the cake still with the back of a knife or with a fork. Glaze once more.

If needed, refrigerate. It's important that the cake is not too warm when placed in the oven to get nice layers of puff pastry.

Bake at 180°C (375°F) for 30 minutes.

The cake is usually served warm or at least at room temperature.

It’s just a cake?

Ah but it isn’t. The Galette des Rois is not just about having a cup of tea and something sweet. There’s an age-old protocol that needs to be followed and it's all to do with the little charm that bakers hide inside the cake.

First of all the youngest child has to hide under the table and tell whoever is cutting the cake who should get which piece.

Whoever finds the charm, known as a féve, in their slice (as long as they don’t swallow it) gets to wear the crown that comes with the tart and then names their king or their queen.

And then everyone just sits down and scoffs it. Normally with either cider or champagne.

Is there just one type of Galette?

How to make Galette des Rois - Traditional Cake in France?
Photo: grandforksherald

Non, non, non. While traditionalists, and there are quite a few of those in France, might insist on the original recipe and shape, French chefs are getting more and more inventive when it comes to these galettes.

Even though no galette is the same in any two pâtisseries, some places have been working extra hard to stand out from the crowd.

In recent years one of the most prestigious pâtisseries in Paris, Fauchon, has created a galette in the shape of a giant pair of lips. Of course, they couldn't just stick to the original recipe and they added passion fruit, raspberry, and rose petals to the mix.

Its close rival Dalloyau called its own creation the "crystal galette" which comes with a touch of bitter orange and Papua New Guinean vanilla. They've even added crystals to the crown.

And new recipes are being promoted including a galette with chocolate chips and nuts, caramelized apple and dried fruit, or even almond, pear, and chocolate.

And of course, we can always rely on Richard Legay, the famous baker from the Marais district of Paris, to come up with his own special take on the galette - see pics below. His boulangerie Legay Choc is well known for creating penis-shaped patisseries, Thelocal reported.

How To Store Galette des Rois?

Galette des Rois is best served the day it is made (especially if you are trying to find the feve!), but you can store any leftover Galette des Rois at room temperature for up to 2 days. Recrisp it in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10 minutes.

You may also keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before using it. If you are preparing the dough longer in advance, double-wrap and freeze it. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator overnight before using, Nickmalgieri suggested.

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