La galette des Rois - Food Gypsy

La galette des Rois, Celebrating the Epiphany

Published On January 7, 2012 | By Gypsy | Gastronomy, On The Street

 A little weekend extra from Food Gypsy, Celebrating the Epiphany with La galette des Rois – (the cake or “wafer” of the Kings), a charming bit of food culture from France.

“Traditionally sold and consumed a few days before and after this date. In modern France, the cakes can be found in most bakeries during the month of January.  Two versions exist: in northern France the cake (which can be either circular or rectangular) consists of flaky puff pastry layers with a dense center of frangipane.  In the south of France, particularly in Occitania and Roussillon, the cake, called gâteau des rois or royaume, is a torus-shaped brioche with candied fruits, very similar to the Catalan tortell. This version of the cake originates in Provence and predates the northern version.

Tradition holds that the cake is “to draw the kings” to the Epiphany.  A figurine, la fève, which can represent anything from a car to a cartoon character, is hidden in the cake and the person who finds the trinket in their slice becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake.  Originally, la fève was literally a broad bean (fève), but it was replaced in 1870 by a variety of figurines out of porcelain or—more recently—plastic.   These figurines have become popular collectibles and can often be bought separately.

Individual bakeries may offer a specialized line of fèves depicting diverse themes from great works of art to classic movie stars and popular cartoon characters.  The cakes are usually sold in special bags, some of which can be used to heat the cake in a microwave without ruining the crispness of the cake.   A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the “king” who finds the fève in their piece of cake. To ensure a random distribution of the cake shares, it is traditional for the youngest person to place themselves under the table and name the recipient of the share which is indicated by the person in charge of the service.” — Source

Yes, I copied and pasted this, I’ve never been to France, what do I know (though I do see a trip in my future).

These photos were taken during last year’s Epiphany at Philouze, a lovely little bakery in Gatineau, QC.   Chef B has a religious experience every time he steps food inside.  Very authentic, very French.

Philouze Boulanger Pâtissier
811 Boulevard Saint-René Ouest, Gatineau, QC
(819) 561-8062 ‎

Fruit Tart - Food Gypsy

Not La galette des Rois but just looking at it make me feel like a king!


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About The Author

"Gypsy" is not my real name." A freelance food & travel writer & photographer based in Aylmer, Quebec. Corinna Horton trained at Le Cordon Bleu, spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn, and is currently between big, shiny kitchens as she focuses on family and what's next in this delicious life.

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