Galettes des Rois

With the reverberations of the end of the year parties barely died down here comes a new celebration: the Epiphany. The Epiphany or the Three Kings’ Day is in the Western Christian world the celebration of the visit of the Magi to the Christ child. It takes place on the first Sunday after 1st of January.
In France the hallmark of Epiphany feast is the “galette des rois” or the “Kings’s Cake”. According to the statistics 30 millions of cakes area eaten each year in France a country whose population is 65 millions!
The tradition of the “galette des rois” dates as back as the 13th century. At the time one slice of the cake called “part du Bon Dieu” – part of the God – or “part de la Vierge” – Virgin Mary’s part – was given to the first poor who was passing by.
The “galette de rois” is in fact an umbrella name for 3 distinctive cakes.
The most popular is the round puffed pastry one filled with almond paste -“frangipane” – known as the “northern cake”!

Almond paste filled "Galette des rois"
Almond paste filled “Galette des rois”

In the southwest of France two other versions are common: the round sweet bread -“brioche”- sprinkled with granulated sugar, and the round brioche with candied fruits.
Galette des Rois sprinkled with granulated sugar
Galette des Rois sprinkled with granulated sugar

Galette des Rois with candied fruits
Galette des Rois with candied fruits

Besides the obvious taste appeal, the “galette de rois” is attractive (especially to children) for its charm (called fève) hidden inside the dough.
The one who finds the charm is declared “king” of the day.
Each year, starting in the middle of December (!) the bakeries are competing with each other not only in savor and presentation of their “galette des rois” but also in the ingenuity of the “fèves” they put inside, with some advertising a 24 Karat gold charm in ONE of their galette, or one of a kind porcelain charms that are collectibles.

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