Both Michelle and I are Francophiles. In fact, we first connected in beginner's French class at university. It is with that thought and my memories of the South of France that I had to try and bake a Galette de Rois.
Translated it means the King's Cake and it's an essential part of experiencing Epiphany in France. However, the flaky butter pastry and delicate filling is a religious experience that you should not reserve for one weekend of the year. It's easy to bake and a crowd pleaser - not too sweet, not to rich, just perfectly balanced. It's my favourite cake and I can not believe I waited this long before trying to bake it myself.
I gave the cake a little South African twist by adding brandy. Or maybe it's a French twist, since brandy was brought to South Africa by the French Huguenots. Now, let's bake a cake!
When you prepare your Galette de Rois, I suggest you do it in the following order:
- Cut the pastry and return it to the fridge.
- Prepare the filling and return it to the fridge.
- Switch on your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
- Once your oven is warm, remove the pastry and filling from the fridge and build your Galette de Rois.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.
1 cup Almond flour
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
Zest of half an orange
100g Salted Butter, soft
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon Dark Rum
1 teaspoon Brandy
1 Fève - it can be a little ceramic figurine or a whole almond
2 squares Butter puff pastry (about 20cm by 20cm), chilled but completely defrosted
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk
- Prepare your work surface with flour. Quickly roll out your butter puff so that it's just big enough to fit a smallish plate or the base of a springform pan of about 20cm in diameter on top. Cut your dough into rounds. Return to the refrigerator.
- With a spoon, mix together the almond flour and sugar. Add the zest (chop the zest a little if it's not fine but stringy).
- Add the butter, and using your hands, mix it until all the ingredients are incorporated. Use an electrical mixer to cream the mixture further until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, and blend using the mixer. Add the rum, brandy and vanilla seeds. Return to the fridge. Switch on your oven.
- Once your oven is warm, remove the puff pastry and filling. Place one layer of pastry onto a buttered baking tray. Scoop the filling into the centre of the pastry and spread, leaving 2-3cm of space around the edges.
- Thoroughly wet the edges of your pastry dough using water, and place the second layer of pastry over the filling. Firmly press the edges together to prevent the cake from leaking its delicious filling in the oven.
- Scallop the edges of the pastry with the blunt side of a knife, pressing the dough back from the edge toward the centre every centimetre or so while pressing down on either side of the knife to ensure that the pastry remains sealed. Using a sharp pairing knife and a light hand, carve a pattern on top of the pastry.
- Mix the egg and milk together and using a brush, paint the top of the pastry. Be careful to not paint the sides, since it will keep your cake from rising. Pierce the top of the cake a couple of times to let steam escape during baking.
- Bake at 190 degrees celcius for 30 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temprature.
- Serve with champagne or espresso.
If you have some dough offcuts and a little filling left, you can make these fig pies.
NOTE - If you like the taste of Almond essence, you can add a few drops to the filling while making it. Be careful not to add too much, it can become very overpowering very quickly.
Frederika & Michelle