Sunday, 5 January 2014

Galette des Rois - A Cake for Epiphany

Galette de Rois or King Cake, as it is sometimes known, is traditionally made to celebrate the Feast of Epiphany on 6th January each year. The cake which originally hails from France, is made up of a frangipane-like almond cream sandwiched between two layers of buttery puff pastry.  Given my love of all things almondy, I am surprised that I have never actually made a Galette de Rois before… but I will definitely be baking it again.

It is surprisingly easy to make, which is another plus point with me because although I love spending time in the kitchen cooking, baking and developing new recipes, the reality is that life with three children is hectic and it is often difficult to find the time to indulge my culinary passions.

There are many customs associated with Galette de Rois; in France a small figurine or trinket is often baked inside the cake and whoever finds it is declared “king” for the day. Traditionally, a dried broad bean or le feve was used but over time the use of specially made porcelain trinkets became popular. Convention has it that the Galette is apportioned according to the number of people who are going to eat it, plus one extra slice which was given to the first peasant or poor person who passed by on the Feast of Epiphany.
 
This is a really lovely cake cum pastry. The filling is moist and sweet and the pastry is flaky and buttery – what more could you ask for?
 
Some recipes suggest adding dark rum to the almond cream, but I used Amaretto instead to really emphasize the almond flavour. Partly because I was stuck for time but mainly because I wasn’t in the humour for the whole palaver associated with making a homemade version, I used shop-bought all-butter puff pastry.
I was really delighted with how the Galette turned out and not for the first time in my gastronomic adventures I marvelled at how something so simple, could just taste so good!

Ingredients:

125g caster sugar
125g butter, softened
125g ground almonds
1 level tblsp plain flour
3 large eggs
1tblsp Amaretto
500g puff pastry
Egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tblsp milk
 

Method:

1. Line a large baking tray with some non-stick baking parchment.
2. Place the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer cream together until light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds and flour and beat to fully incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well before adding the next. Finally mix in the Amaretto. Set aside.
Egg wash:
3. Mix the egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl.
To finish:
4. Divide the puff pastry in half and using a rolling pin, roll out each piece until it is about ½cm thick. From each piece cut out a circle approximately 25cms in diameter.
5. Place one circle on the prepared baking tray. Spoon the almond cream into the centre of the circle and using the back of a spoon, spread out evenly, leaving a 5cm border clear around the edge of the circle.
6. Brush some egg wash on the pastry border and carefully lift the other pastry circle on top. Seal the edges of the two circles together to fully enclose the filling.
7. Chill the Galette by refrigerating it for an hour.
8. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C/Gas Mark 4.
9. Remove the Galette from the fridge and brush with the top with the remaining egg wash. Using a small, sharp knife cut the edges into a scallop pattern. Then, using the tip of the knife, score the top of the pastry into a sunray type pattern.
10. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes until a rich, golden colour.
11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.
 
Serves 8.