It’s that time of year when France celebrates the Three Wise Men coming to baby Jesus by eating yummy galettes des rois. While they’re available for the whole month of January, traditionally, they are eaten on Epiphany. Inside of the galettes, there is a hidden fève. Fève, directly translating to”bean”, indeed used to be a bean baked into the cake. Now however, it’s usually a figurine from the nativity or really n’importe quoi. It can be a mini superhero, coin, anything really. To share a galette des rois among friends is referred to as tirer des rois. Finding the fève represents the three kings finding Jesus and whoever finds the fève is the king or queen for the day and gets to wear a crown. They also have the honor of paying for the galette. Yippy!
The northern style galette is made of puff pastry and filled with almond paste. It is flat and often has a little design on top. The nicer the design, typically the better the quality. The southern style galette is made of brioche and shaped like a crown. It’s topped with candied fruit and coarse sugar. Video on the making of the galette des rois. I adore almonds and puff pastry and was thus surprised to find that I actually preferred the southern style galette. Next I’m going to start saying bieng, loing, cha va… But I digress.
These are the predecessors of the American king cake, typical of New Orleans. I find that the southern-style galette is most similar in shape and taste to its American cousin, minus the candied fruit. The American version is topped with a sugary icing colored green, purple, and gold, the official mardi gras colors. Most typically, there is a baby figurine inside representing baby Jesus.
Which is your favorite? Are you a fruit or almond galette kind of person?