My poor non-French people,
Forget about juicing for a sec…
Why start the year punishing yourself, when you can be French and perfect and decide that each moment must be enjoyed to the last bite ?
After the holidays, the first thing my fellow countrymen think is… “Where are we buying the galette next week?”.
King’s cake is the first culinary event of the year. It’s set on the first Sunday of January, which leaves you one week to sip bouillon de poule et légumes bouillis (chicken broth and steamed veggies) to recover from the Holidays madness and the very French crise de foie.
So start the year on a good foot, d’un bon pied ! Treat yourself like a princess and become a queen (or a king!) in one piece of cake.
La galette des rois
2 puff pastry sheets (a princess doesn’t spend two days preparing a home-made puff pastry dough, trust me!)
3 ounces butter
3 ounces almond meal
2,2 ounces brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Don’t misunderstand me : the kings celebrated in this cake have nothing to do with the infamous tyrans whose heads were somehow cut off at some point in our History…
Kings cake honour the Rois mages, the three Kings that are said to have walked across the desert to meet and welcome Jesus as soon as they heard that he was born.
The once very catholic France has then made a tradition to celebrate this day, Epiphany, by “drawing the kings”, tirer les rois : each cake is not only delicious, but also a way to maybe become King (or Queen!) for the day.
A fève, usually a small porcelain figurine is hidden in the cake.
Who ever bites in it is instantly crowned, and has to choose a partner to reign with.
This is of course a kids favorite (and some parents’ nightmare, when brothers and sisters fight and cry because they didn’t get the fève…)
French pâtisseries all start to make galettes as soon as Christmas is over, and all try to compete against each other by offering different fèves for kids to collect.
Actually, it’s also a passion for never growing kids : there’s even a special word for it ! Fabophiles.
They are obsessed with fèves : some have more than 10.000, and can spend their day exchanging them or trying to get a very rare specimen on the internet…
Finding a fève in LA was definetely the hardest part of this recipe… I finally found something ressembling in a small memorablia shop at LA’s farmers market, but am seriously thinking of opening a buisness of fève imports in the US !
I never made galette when I was in France : there are so many good pâtissiers that make them !
During the months of January, lines in front of boulangeries-pâtisseries are incredibly long on Sundays. The thing is, who ever has the fève is supposed to invite everybody the next week to eat galette again.. So it’s a very delicious but vicious circle…
Now that I live in LA, I’ve discovered that it can be a very easy recipe to make, the kind of recipe you can bake with kids for example.
- Leave the butter at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- Mix it with the brown sugar, then add one eggAdd the almond flour
- Add the teaspoon of orange blossom water (or you can use Grand Marnier for ex.)
- Mix well until everything is smooth
- Meanwhile cut two rounds in the puff pastry sheets (around 10 inches)
- Put one pastry sheet on a baking sheet.
- Spread the almond cream on it, making sure there’s nothing 1 inch around the border
- With a pastry brush, moist the border with cold water
- Cover with the second round of puff pastry
- Glue the two sheets together by pressing them and turning the tip
- Use the egg yolk of the second egg to pain the whole pie yellow, and draw lines on it with the tip of your knife
- Leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (24 hours is best)
- Meanwhile preheat the oven at 400°F
- Slide the galette in it for 30 minutes
- Then reduce to 350 F for the last 10 minutes.
Et voilà !
Now the most difficult part is to come : cut it without showing the fève to the guests, and ruining the surprise!
The French and perfect family would always ask the youngest person attending to go under the table, so that he or she would not be able to see which piece of cake goes to whom.
The hostess cuts the cake, and chants the following magic words (at least that’s what my mom used to say)
“Febe, dominae, pour qui ?
The person under the table decides who gets the first piece, etc.
Galette des rois is also a very social event used by many to celebrate the new year.
You often have one at the office with your colleagues, or are invited to the town’s galette if you are a notable (a public figure) for example…
The most exclusive one is the galette made each year at the Elysée palace, where the French president lives.
It’s always unsually big, and is also very special in the way that it’s the only galette in France with no fève ; no one can become a King when the president is there !
Now I guess Mr François Hollande was relieved not to have to wear the crown and choose a Queen… These last weeks, he seems to be kind of hesitant on the subject…
Allez, bon appétit les amis!
ET BONNE ANNEE !!!