La Galette des Rois: French King cake

french-heritage

And just when you thought you could never eat again after the holidays… you realize that, well, the festivities are not yet over. Years ago, we used to eat a lot for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It was a real feast composed of several apéritifs, two entrées, a main course, salad, cheese and two desserts. It was definitely too much and looking back we cannot believe we were able to eat that much in just one single evening (the 24th) and then have lunch the next day. Even though our holiday feasts have been more suitable for the human stomach for the past few years now, we forget that two more events are coming up. The first is in January with the traditional Galette des Rois, which starts on Epiphany Day, and the second one is la Chandeleur (on February 2nd this year) when French families make crêpes for the whole household. 

french-king-cake-galette-rois-queen

It is therefore necessary to exercise a little in anticipation of all the sugar that awaits us! And what better way than talking long walks in the woods. Winter air is invigorating, the trees have lost their leaves and you can admire their architecture.My favorite part is spotting beautiful old French properties that are usually hidden by thick foliage as you wander about the French countryside. During the week, when I am in Paris, I try to take a walk along the Seine or in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area. Unfortunately, I do not always have the time to do so and I am often too tired when I come back home late from the office.  

“What is most exciting about the galette des rois is that there is a special surprise baked in to it: a little charm called a fève.”

french-king-cake-galette-rois-grande-epicerie

What I love about the Galette des Rois is that it can last the whole month of January and you can eat as many Galettes as your heart desires. And there are many flavors to choose from. As soon as New Year’s Eve is over and the famous bûches de Noël (yule logs) have disappeared from pastries’ stacks, they are as soon replaced with these wonderful crispy galettes. The purists say that the traditional one is made with frangipane which is almond paste, but there is now a diversity of flavors thus fit for a diversity of taste. 

You can buy a galette from your local boulanger or pâtissier with apple compote, chocolate or chestnut cream and in Provence, you will even find a Brioche des rois which looks like a huge bun full of candied fruits. What is most exciting about the galette des rois is that there is a special surprise baked in to it: a little charm called a fève.

“For a nice experience, eat the Galette with a good bottle of Breton cider or Champagne…”

At home, we eat at least a Galette per week during January and it has become a tradition for the whole family to meet (again) and for our mom to cut the galette into as many slices as there are people eating. Cutting and serving the galette is part of a large tradition. We ask the youngest member in the family to sit under the table and hide so he cannot see how the galette is being cut up. Then, he gets to decide for whom each slice will be. The lucky one who gets the fève is designated Queen or King for the day. This is why we take it very seriously and no cheating is permitted. 

french-countryside

Celebrating the Galette des Rois is always a good excuse in France to spend time with family but also with friends (and even colleagues). As our friends were away for the Christmas holidays, we like to gather for a Galette to catch up about the festivities and plan projects for the year… and it’s always a good idea to come with a good bottle of Breton cider of Champagne. Our next Galette des Rois is to be this weekend with our neighbors in the countryside and I cannot wait to attend as I know we will have a good time there with macarons and… Champagne, bien sûr! Who wouldn’t like that? After all, January can be a bit dull and it is a nice excuse to still have some fun after Christmas and forget the cold short days for a little bit.

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