Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as the Three Kings Day. Together with many French households across the globe, we enjoyed a cake that is traditionally made with frangipane sandwiched between two buttery and flaky layers of pâte feuilletée (puff pastry). The recipe I used is a variation on the traditional cake, which has melted dark chocolate added to an almond mixture, which is then topped with sliced pears. I couldn’t find my ceramic fèves, so I used a small seashell. Not just any seashell, though, this one we found on an island in Hạ Long Bay, Viet Nam.
This recipe comes from the online journal Linteraute, a fabulous resource for lifestyle tips and all sorts of information on how to be cool. Their culinary page is full of modern and traditional recipes that come with mouth-watering photographs. You can even watch a video of adorable chef David Alexandre make this recipe here. The written recipe with step-by-step photos can also be found here. Please note that the entire site, as well as the video are in French. But that shouldn’t stop you from watching David bake. French men are sexy. French men who cook and bake are heavenly creatures.
We had the pleasure of sharing our galette with our neighbors Pierre and Claudia, along with their children Annick and Miguel. What are the odds of having a husband and neighbor named Pierre in Ann Arbor? Anyway, below are photos of our celebration. They were kind enough to indulge us and went under the table as I cut the cake. Annick called out who got what slice. She ended up having the slice with the fève (coincidence?) and thus, won the crown and bragging rights for a year.
While the official feast day was yesterday, people in France will enjoy this galette all through the month of January. In the past, this was an 8-day feast that began on January 6 and ended on the octave of the Epiphany on January 13. Therefore, you still have time to celebrate. So what are you waiting for?
Alors, bonne fête!
GALETTE DES ROIS
adapted from Linternaute
- 125 grams (1 cup) freshly ground almonds
- 100 grams (~7Tbl) softened butter
- 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 100 grams (~3.5 oz.) dark chocolate, gently melted over a double boiler or on low heat in the microwave
- 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and stemmed, with each half cut into 8 slices (you can also use canned/preserved pears)
- 2 sheets of puff pastry
- 1 ceramic fève
- egg wash (one egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp. of milk/water)
- simple syrup – equal parts melted sugar and water (optional)
- Roll out one the pastry sheets and cut a circle with a 10-inch diameter. Using the other pastry sheet, repeat and cut another circle, but make this one 10 1/2 inch in diameter. (This larger circle will go on the top of the filling later). Place both pastry rounds in the refrigerator to chill and rest for at least 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small/medium bowl, blend with a spoon the ground almonds, butter and sugar. Add one egg and mix until thoroughly combined. Now, add the second egg and mix again.
- Next, add the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Set mixture aside.
- Preheat your oven to 475F.
- Take the chilled rounds of pastry dough from the refrigerator and with a knife, gently score the larger disc. You can make large criss-crosses, spirals or whatever fancies you.
- Lay the bottom pastry disc on a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Add the chocolate-almond mixture and spread in an even layer (be careful to leave at least 1.5 inch space at the edge).
- Top the chocolate with pear slices. Nestle the fève into the filling.
- Cover with the top pastry disc. Carefully seal and crimp the edges. With a knife, score the edges.
- Brush the center of the cake (not the edges) with the egg wash.
- Bake on a baking sheet at 475F for 10 minutes. Then lower the the heat to 350F and bake for another 20 minutes.
- When the cake is done, remove from heat and while it is still hot, you can brush simple syrup over the entire cake. This will add a lovely sheen.
Note 1: If you look at the photos, you’ll see that I placed the pastry round in a tart pan. *Bad idea* So, don’t be silly like me – form the cake on a sheet of parchment or wax paper, which will make it easier to transfer to a baking sheet. I also didn’t leave enough space at the edge (1 in. instead of 1.5in.) of the pastry round, but I made do and it turned out fine – but I’ll know better next time.
Note 2: To make the traditional version, just omit the chocolate and pears from the recipe.