Today is Epiphany. Since I’m often running late for things I find it comforting to think about the three kings being tardy for baby Jesus’ birthday. If I’d been around back then (and more significantly if I’d been invited) I probably would have been late too.
More importantly in my mind than gold, frankincense, and myrrh the kings brought as gifts is the Galette des Rois or Kings Cake which is made to celebrate their arrival.
I have heard the dessert called either Gâteau des Rois or Galette des Rois though my French isn’t good enough to describe the differences between the two, and while there are many recipes for a Kings Cake, the two variations I’ve had are puff pastry confection filled with creamy almond filling and topped with a gold crown or a Louisiana style version which is cinnamon dough shaped like a wreath and frosted with sugary icing and lots of purple, green, and yellow sugar. Inside of either version there is a fève or bean.
I’m sure that originally the bean was a bean, but today it is often a small porcelain figure that is baked into the cake, though sometimes it can be a little plastic baby which is inserted after baking. The person who is lucky enough to get the slice of cake with the fève is then crowned King or Queen for the a day or in some instances for the year. Finding the fève not only bestows upon you the title, but in some places also means you need to buy the Kings Cake the following year.
Fèves come in all shapes, styles, and finishes which you can see if you do a google image search for fèves. It’s probably lucky I don’t live in France or New Orleans because if I did my fèves collection would fill much more than a few chocolate boxes.
My favorite Gallette des Rois recipe comes from my college friend Alexis who has been living in France since graduation. I can’t share it with you though because A. I haven’t asked her permission (this is no ordinary recipe–she won first prize in a cooking competition with this recipe) and B. because I put it someplace very, very safe; so safe that I can’t quite remember where that safe place is right now. When I find the recipe I will be baking our Kings Cake and hiding a fève in it, it’ll just be a little bit late.