This is the Traditional French version of ‘King Cake’ that is served on Jan 6th to celebrate the Feast of The Three Kings – The Epiphany. This particular recipe is from Trish Deseine’s French Kitchen cookbook that I have used very successfully over many years. There are plenty of other versions to be found such as the New Orleans Mardi Gras style cake with the green, gold and purple colouring symbolising faith, power and justice accordingly. But I am a sucker for galette rather than the doughier versions of the cake and the féve (bean) a tradition and the word that that has come down from Latin and Saturnalia in ancient Rome – the festival of carousing, lights and role reversal that gives us our Christmas. the bean bestows privileges and obligations on the ‘King’ or ‘Queen’ for the year – the first being they must provide the cake the following year- you can also hide a coin or many cakes now come with tiny porcelain baby figures that people collect.
- 50g butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 50g ground almonds
- A few drops of bitter almond extract
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp rum (optional)
- 1 packet good puff pastry
- 1 feve
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and set it aside.
2. The puff pastry should be defrosted but kept in the fridge until the very last minute to make sure that it will rise properly.
3. In a bowl, mix the butter, 2 eggs, sugar and flour until well combined. Add the ground almonds, mix well, then add the bitter almond extract, the salt and the rum, if you’re including it.
4. Roll out the puff pastry and cut two 22cm rounds. Place one on the baking sheet (leave the other in the fridge for now). Scoop the almond mixture into the centre of the pastry and gently and evenly distribute it across it, leaving a 2cm rim uncovered.
5. Place the feve anywhere you like on the almond cream, then brush the uncovered rim with beaten egg.
6. Remove the second puff pastry round from the fridge and gently place on top of the almond cream, aligning the edges so that they sit directly over those of the lower round.
7. Without pushing the almond cream out, gently bring the edges down to just touch the lower ones, pinching them together.
8. Brush the remaining beaten egg over the top of the puff pastry to glaze it, then make a small hole in the centre with a knife.
9. Gently score the pastry to make a criss-cross pattern, being careful not to cut all the way through.
10. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3 and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden and the pastry has puffed up.
11. Let it cool completely before you start cutting into it.