On January 6th all over France, we celebrate Epiphany Day 12 days after Christmas with La Galette des Rois which is reminiscent of the biblical Christian tradition of the three wise men’s journey or Les Trois Rois Mages bearing gifts of gold, myrrh, and incense following the birth of Jesus. The three wise men or Kings were called Balthazar, Gaspard, and Melchior who followed the star to find Jesus in the manger. The galette follows the tradition of the Tirage des Rois or the drawing of the King. Inside the galette, there is a little trinket or a fève. Custom has it that the youngest child would hide under the table blindfolded and designate each piece of galette to be served to the guests. Whoever got the piece of galette with the hidden fève would be crowned King or Queen for the day and wear the Couronne d’Or or golden crown.
The traditional fèves ( the trinket, figurine, or bean hidden inside the galette) in France is quite impossible to accidentally swallow because it is big! In France, there’s a new theme out each year ( one year there was even a Coca-Cola theme or Disneyland!) These little porcelain figurines are becoming quite collectibles and did you know that collecting these fèves is called: Favophilie?
La Galette des Rois is an anticipated treat and it is sold throughout the month of January in bakeries or supermarkets. There are few galette variations some with fruits, nuts, or no filling depending on the region but my ultimate favorite galette is the galette filled with almond paste, not to be confused with the Frangipane filling which is half crème d’amande and half crème pâtissière. Depending on how rich you want your galette you can adapt the recipe check out La Galette des Rois – 3 Easy Recipes.
In the North of France in Normandy, la Galette is made of pâte feuilletée or puff pastry stuffed with a dense, creamy almond cream and crème pâtissière called frangipane. (personally, I prefer “crème d’amande or pâte d’amande” which is just blanched almonds in powder, butter, sugar & eggs). In the south of France, you’ll be eating a brioche-style cake covered with candied fruits called Gateau des Rois.
Happy Epiphany Day! Bonne Fête des Rois!
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