The royal magic of Galette des rois (King Cake)

A delicious tradition for Epiphany, galette des rois (King Cake) is prepared in puff pastry with a sweet cream in France.

Known in Louisiana as King Cake, and drenched in the purple-green-and-gold of Mardi Gras, the original French Galette des Rois is a bit different. A reserved flaky puff-pastry crust hides what's truly special about this tart (other than frangipane, a mélange of pastry and almond cream)—a tiny figurine called the fève, which bestows royal rights on whoever finds it!

A taste of France

Galettes des rois come in as many flavors as there are patisseries in France. The classic is frangipane and puff pastry, but variations with apples, nuts, berries, flowers and dozens of other flavors are also available (External link) , as well as shapes ranging from actual crowns to a pair of lips!
galette des rois 2

Royal origins

Like most traditions in France, these galettes pair heritage with gastronomy. The tradition of of the fève tucked away in a cake supposedly dates back to France's days as a Roman colony, when winter solstice was celebrated (External link) by preparing a cake with a dried bean inside (the literal meaning of fève). Whichever lucky slave found it became "king" for a day. The tradition took on Christian overtones to celebrate the Epiphany on Jan 6, and the bean morphed into porcelain representations of cultural figures (often represented in plastic today). The royal ascendence continues, however, and whoever finds the fève in their mouthful temporarily becomes king or queen!

Pistache's Galette des rois recipe:

The puff pastry

2X 10’’ puff pastry circles, about 0.11’’ to 0.19 thick

The filling (frangipane)

80g (2/3 cup) soft butter
20g (1/8 cup) brown butter
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
80g (2/3 cup) eggs
100g (1/2 cup) almond flour
1 pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
Citrus zest according to taste
1 tsp of brown rum
100g (1/2 cup) of homemade pastry cream


100g (1/2 cup) sugar
100g (1/2 cup) water
Vanilla bean, or whatever you feel like using to flavor the syrup (zest, spice, rum)
Bring to a boil


Working with a mixer (using the paddle) or by hand.
Beat the soft butter and the sugar until creamy.
Beat in the egg (don't worry if the batch separates)
Add the almond flour and combine. Mix in the salt, zest & rum
Chill in fridge for at least 1hjour

Place one circle of puff pastry dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border bare.
Press the oven-safe charm or fève into the filling (you can use a big dried bean).
Moisten the border with cold water, position the second circle of dough over the filling and press around the border with your fingertips to seal well.

Brush (lightly) the top of the galette with egg wash, avoiding the edge of the dough.
Refrigerate 30 minutes.
Brush with egg wash a second time.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.

With the point of a paring knife (not the cutting side), etch a design into the top of the galette.
Be careful to do it deep enough so that your design will show after baking, but be careful not to cut the dough.
Prick several small slits in the top to vent steam while baking.

Rest your galette in the fridge while preheating the oven at 350°F
Bake for 20min , turn the tray around in order to bake evenly, and bake another 20/25 inutes.
Brush the galette with a sugar syrup put back in the oven for 5 min.

Cool on a wire rack

Enjoy at room temperature.