In Belgium and France, the Christmas holidays end officially with Epiphany on 6th January. On this day, the tradition is to eat the so-called Galette des rois (French King Cake) which is basically a puff pastry with an almond filling containing a baked in bean. The galette is cut in as many portions as many people are eating it and whoever gets the bean, becomes the king of the day and can wear the golden paper crown which comes with each King Cake.
Every year, starting at the end of December, until the beginning of January, the French King Cake can be seen in each supermarket or bakery in Belgium or France. During my first years in Belgium, I never paid attention to it, thinking to myself this was only for kids. But when my Belgian colleagues first brought one on 6th January and we ended up in a meeting room, eating it together and laughing when the one who found the bean had to wear the crown, I realized it was a nice tradition.
Apart from probably the most traditional King Cake with almond filling, I also saw ones with hazelnut, apple or chocolate filling. There are no limits to taste and fantasy! For now, here is a recipe for the traditional one. Hope you like it! 🙂
- 450 g ready-made puff pastry
- 150 g ground almonds
- 100 g caster sugar
- 80 g softened butter
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 2 tbsp. rum
- 2 eggs
- 1 dry bean
- golden paper crown (optional)
- First of all, divide one egg into halves as you will need 1 and ½ egg for the filling and ½ beaten egg for brushing. Beat one egg in a cup and divide into halves. Add the other egg to one half and reserve the other half for brushing later.
- Beat together the ground almonds, sugar and softened butter until llight and fluffy. Beat in 1 and ½ egg, then stir in the almond extract and rum. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill for 1 hour in a refrigerator (this will prevent the cake from deformation while baking).
- Line the baking sheet with parchement paper. Divide the ready-made puff pastry in half, roll out each piece and using a knife and cake pan or a large plate, trace +/-25cm circles onto the dough. Keep one circle of pastry aside and place the other cirle on the baking sheet. Spread evenly the chilled almond filling over the circle pastry, leaving about 2 cm edges empty. Press the bean down into the filling. Brush the edges with water, then cover with second circle pastry and press the edges with a finger, making small cuts of about 2-3 mm towards the center. Brush the cake with the reserved ½ beaten egg and allow to chill for 1 hour in a refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Take the cake out from the refrigerator and brush with the remaining beaten egg once more. Using a small sharp knife, make a line, crisscross or any other pattern on the top pastry.
- Bake for 10 minutes on 200°C, then lower the heat to 180°C and bake for another 15-20 minutes until deep golden brown.
- Serve the king cake warm or at room temperature with the golden paper crown on it. Don´t forget to tell everybody about the bean inside! 😉