Saturday, January 07, 2006


galette des rois

Yesterday was Epiphany, meaning the Christmas season is officially over. We celebrated it with a homemade galette des rois. I didn't mean to make one, really, but my search for an adequate store-bought one left me empty-handed. I couldn't bring myself to spend money on something that didn't look amazing. Even if mine didn't turn out perfect, I still would have had the pleasure of making it, and I was pretty sure it was going to taste good.

Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, is celebrated with a special pastry. Originally, it was supposed to be a holiday where you would share food and drink with the poorest citizens in your village, but unfortunately this celebration (and others like it) has for the most part fallen by the wayside over time.

In England, Twelfth Night cake takes the form of a fruitcake with a hidden bean inside. The French have their Galette des Rois, a puff pastry pie filled with an almond center and a bean. The New Orleans version is more like a brioche decorated with candies. In Mexico, the equivalent is called Rosca de Reyes and reminds me of a large hot cross bun baked in a ring--studded with candied fruits and a sugar glaze.

The bean is hidden in the pastry and whoever gets it in their piece will be lucky in the coming year, buy the next round of drinks, is crowned king or queen for the night, or will host the next party (in my favorite version), depending on where you're from. Most beans nowadays are made of plastic, but you can still find some ceramic ones. Homemade versions usually contain an actually bean, because why would you keep last year's plastic bean lying around?

I started the puff pastry two days ahead so the turns would fit into my schedule. It is the first time I've ever made it at home, and I can now say it's do-able for the home cook. Whenever I used to see this claim in my cookbooks, I'd scoff. Do you think I'm going to allow something like 10 hours to make a dough? Even if they follow it up with "it's not 10 hours active time," I would still skip that page and go on to something less intensive. The thing to remember with a dough like this is it can work around your schedule. Usually the books tell you to let it rest for 1-2 hours between turns. I did it whenever I could fit it in. It rested once overnight, the next time for 2 hours, and finally for 4 hours. Since no yeast is involved, you can't overproof the dough. As long as you let it rest for some period of time, it will turn out fine.

This made enough dough for the galette, plus some leftovers for palmiers or turnovers.

Puff Pastry

300 g all purpose flour
100 g pastry flour
5 g salt
100 g butter
250 ml +/- water

300 g butter, soft

Mix flours and salt in a large bread bowl. Add butter in small pieces and mix in with your fingertips until the butter is well combined. You will still have small pieces of butter. Don't worry. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the water, adding most but not all of the 250 ml at once. Mix gently, being careful not to knead the dough. Add rest of water, if needed. Dough should form a soft ball. Wrap in plastic and let rest at least 1 hour in the fridge.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle approximately 7" x 20". Spread the soft butter over 2/3rds of the surface of the dough, being careful to leave a border around the edges. (I highly recommend looking at a diagram in a cookbook, if you have one on hand.) Fold the "dry" third over the middle, as if you were folding a letter. Fold the other end over the middle. You should now have three layers of dough and two of butter. You have completed the beurrage. Wrap and chill for a few hours. Basically, now you are left with the "turns." Roll out the dough to the original rectangle size, being careful not to squeeze out any butter. Fold into thirds, as you did with the last step. Repeat once, let rest, chilled, a few hours. Repeat these two turns twice more, for a total of six. Done. Wrap and chill until needed. The colder the dough, the easier it will be to roll out.


175 g almond paste (50%)
100 g sugar
100 g butter, soft
3 eggs
40 g all purpose flour
40 g pastry flour

Beat almond paste with sugar until softened. Add butter and mix until smooth. Add eggs gradually, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add flours to combine. Cover and place in fridge.


Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, to 1/8" thick. Cut out 2 large circles. Let the rest, chilled for 20 min. Place one round on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place about 1 cup of frangipane in the center. Push a bean or ceramic token into the filling. Brush some egg around the circumference and place the other round on top. Press the edges carefully to seal. Score a design into the top piece with a knife and brush with egg. Let chill 20 min. Bake at 375°F for about 40 min., until the top is dark and the sides are golden brown. Let cool on a rack.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did you try the Fromentier one? I just bought their little mini chocolate galette des rois, and it was divine. The pastry was deliciously buttery and flakey and the cocoa flavour (they also had traditional non-cocoa ones) was very subtle. Not sure if they put a bean even in the mini ones as I still have four more slices to go, but since I'm eating the whole thing myself I already know who will be crowned queen if there is one! - kazi