Making galette des rois, the king’s cake
Monday, January 16, 2012

In France, there’s a tradition of eating galette des rois (King’s cake) to celebrate Epiphany. The galettes are found in most  pâtisseries and boulangeries throughout the month of January. It’s basically a large puff pastry filled with almond cream.

But what’s fun about these cakes is that a tiny trinket, la fève, is hidden inside. The guest who receives the slice with the trinket gets to be crowned King for the day. To ensure fairness and decide which slice goes to whom, the youngest member of the party hides under the dinner table and tells the server who to give each slice to.

To make the galettes, we began by making some puff pastry dough, feuilletage inverséThe puff pastry dough was rolled into 2 large circles and an almond cream was made for the filling.

Here's R2D2 hiding in my galette des rois! I added some candied orange bits to my frangipane cream.

Here's my galette. It's 2 circles of puff pastry filled with an almond cream. Before baking, we egg wash the surface and score it lightly with a knife to make a decorative pattern.

Here's the finished galette des rois. This one was made by Weebites. Even our Chef was very impressed! Unfortunately, I took mine home and ate it, forgetting that I hadn't taken a picture yet.

With the leftover puff pastry dough, we rolled out two giant rectangles to make one of my favourite desserts, mille-feuille!

Here is my feuilletage inversé before baking. Because there are many layers of pastry which rise up during baking, we take the trays out after 10 minutes and cover with a sheet of parchment paper and another baking tray and put it back into the oven until it's light golden.

Once it's a light golden, we take it out and sprinkle a generous layer of powdered sugar on top and put it back into the oven again, uncovered, just until the sugar melts. The caramelized sugar acts as a protective layer against the moisture from the filling.

Then, we take each large rectangle of mille-feuille, trim off the uneven edges and cut it into 3 even strips. Here, you can see the delicate layers of the feuilletage inversé. I could eat this just like that everyday with some tea. It's just so buttery, delicate, and flaky all together! Needless to say, I ate all the scraps we cut off, yum.

Then, we made a vanilla pastry cream and pipped that in between the layers of mille-feuille.

Here's one of my completed mille-feuille cakes.

I made another with my friend's praline cream, this was an excellent combination. If I open a bakery one day, this will definitely be on the menu!

Here's a tool they use to cut long, delicate, shifty desserts. I don't think it works too well because the delicate cream will ooze out even at minimal pressure. I think to get clean slices, you would need to cute the mille-feuille into individual portions before piping the pastry cream. Or, you could make a thicker pastry cream which wouldn't be as delicious in my opinion.

Then, we made some tarts with toasted walnuts glazed in salted butter caramel. Yum.

After, we made another classic, the baba au rhum, a rich bread soaked in sugar syrup and drenched in rum. This might be my least favourite dessert I’ve had so far in France. I’ve tasted babas from 3 different shops and it’s always too sweet for me.

It starts out with a bread that's made with flour, water, eggs, butter, sugar, and yeast. The dough is quite sticky and wet and so we pipe it with a piping bag into molds.

After baking, we let the breads dry out for a day in order to have it to soak as much syrup on the day of assembly. In this picture, you can see the difference between a syrup-soaked bread (left) vs. a dried bread (right). It's doubled in size! That's how much syrup is in these cakes. Also, different shapes (for the same cake) give different names to these rum-soaked cakes. These donut-looking ones are called savarins.

These cylindrical ones are called babas and they are how the original baba au rhum was made. After soaking the cakes in sugar syrup for about 20 minutes, we drench the cakes in rum (as if they aren't super-saturated enough). To finish, we add a layer of glaze and some candied fruit on top.

Finally, we made some polonaises with some brioche bread we also made that week. Another syrup-soaked cake, this time without the rum.

The base of the polonaises is made of a tart shell filled with almond cream. Then we take 3 circles of brioche bread, soak in sugar-syrup, pipe vanilla pastry cream in between each circle of brioche and pile it on the tart.

Then, we cover the entire thing with italien meringue and almonds and bake just slightly.


2 Comments so far...
  • ec
    June 26, 2013
    I was wondering whether you could share the recipe for the praline cream? for the Millefeuille...which method did the school use? Traditional or inverted?
  • Jeff
    January 23, 2012
    R2D2. tee hee