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Origins and Recipe of the Galette des Rois
The Galette des Rois or Cake of the Kings, commemorates Twelfth Night when the Three Kings arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts for baby Jesus. A single porcelain fève (charm) is hidden in each galette.
Epiphany's date is on 6th January but you can find the galette in every boulangerie in France during nearly the whole month.
Because Ephiphany is not a Bank Holiday, it is either celebrated the first or the second Sunday in January.
Epiphany is an ancient celebration for the Winter solstice called Saturnales. The tradition of the "charm" might originate with the Saturnales.
The "charm" was, until the 1960s, a real dried bean, but since, little ceramic figures are used, generating a collectors' and trading business.
The oldest finding of the "Galette des rois" goes back to 1311, where a chart of Robert, bishop of Amiens, talks about a custom to "draw the kings" with a light fluffy galette. during the French Revolution, the name was replaced with "galette of Equality", because there was no more kings.
Another origin sustained by the Besançon's inhabitants says that in the XI Century, monks from Besançon elected their future leader by inserting a silver coin in a bread. This custom was repeated in other monasteries. The bread will become a "brioche". Hence, You can find the "fougasse" or "fougaço" in Languedoc and Provence, the "coque" in Ariège, sometimes garnished with sugared fruits or anis seeds (garfou) in Béarn. We find also "fouaces" in Perche, "flamusse" in Bresse and "garots" in Normandy, and finally "crépeaux" or "patissous" in Périgord.
Once the galette is cut, a child hides under the table to give the name of the person that will be served next.
According to tradition going back many centuries, the person who finds the charm becomes King or Queen for the day and wears the crown. This person must also buy the next Galette and so the game continues. The galette should be served warm and with a very dry white wine (for adults only!).
(from the Grand Livre de Recettes, 700 idées pour chaque jour. Ed OPEASI)
Ingredients for 6 persons:
For the Galette:
500 g of puff pastry
pinch of salt
350g melted butter then cooled in the fridge
1 egg yolk
For the cream:
60gr almond powder
1 tablespoon of kirsch
60 gr caster sugar
60 gr de butter
Mix the sugar with the almond and the egg , add the melted butter and the kirsch
If the cream becomes too thick, add a little creme fraiche.
Roll the puff pastry and make two identical circles
Spread the cream on the first disk, place the charm.
Cover with the second disk and seal the edges.
Spread a mixture of egg yolk and water on the top with a brush, being very careful with NOT spreading any of it on the edges.
Make some little cuts on the edges to allow the pastry to rise, and make few holes on the top of the disk to allow the steam to get out.
Pre-heat the oven at 230 C.
Brush again with egg yolk and little water
Cook in warm oven for 35 to 40 minutes (you can start with the oven at 220/230 C for 15 mn then with oven at 200 C for 20mn.
Add icing sugar 5mn before the end of cooking time or with little syrup.
Let the galette to cool down a little before serving.
Selection of French bakeries in London, where you can buy typical Galette des rois.
individual- £3.90, 4 pers- £14, 6 pers- £19.50, 8-10 pers- £26.50, 12 pers- £36.50, 16 pers- £37.50
6 pers- £10.50, 8 pers- £12.50, 10 pers- £15.50
6 pers- £9.50, 8-10 pers- £14.50
4-6 pers- £11.50, 6-8 pers-£14.75, 8-10- £18.75
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