La galette des Rois: a French Three Kings Day cake

4 Jan 2014

France, like many other countries, has a special cake to celebrate 3 Kings Day or Epiphany as it is more commonly called in France. This cake is eaten only about a week before to a week after the actual day (6th January). Bakeries usually sell it only during that time. But it is too good not to make it any other time!

La Galette des rois: a French Three Kings Day cake

The galette is basically a puff pastry cake accompanied with some kind of filling (traditionally an almond butter-based one). The South of France has a different kind of cake. But I am a northern girl and I much prefer the puff pastry version.
Galette Des Rois
Galette des Rois via Flickr

The tradition around the galette is to "tirer les rois" (literaly meaning to pull out the kings). A charm is hidden in the cake and the person who gets it is the king for the day and must wear a crown. When you buy the cake in a bakery, you usually get given a (paper) crown to go with it too! But kids can also make their own. In a lot of families, mine included, the person who gets the charm must also purchase next year's galette as eating a galette is often part of a large gathering with family or friends (as a lot of eating traditions are).
Fève, Galette des Rois, Échiré Maison du Beurre, Marunouchi Brick Square
a cow charm via Flickr

Usually, in order to determine who gets what piece of cake when it is cut, the younger person around the table (a small child) goes and hides under the table. The host picks a piece at random and the child must determine who gets it as he cannot be influenced by size or visual cues of the charm.
Those little charms can be as complex or as simple as the family likes. Obviously, the commercial versions of the galette often have porcelain cartoon figures or similar.

In our house, we like to make the galette ourselves the traditional way as the bakery ones can be expensive and disappointing (and would mean a trip across the border). Making one is also not that difficult and is quite quick.

Here is our recipe:

Ingredients (for 6 people):
- 2 puff pastry sheets
- 140g powdered almonds (but you can use other nuts too. we like pistachios).
- 100g caster suagr
- 2 eggs
- 75g soft butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 charm (optional)

Making a galette des Rois

Place your first sheet of pastry on a baking tray and prick it all over with a fork.
In a bowl, mix the almonds (powdered), sugar, 2 eggs and soft butter.  Spread the mixture on top of the pastry and hide the charm in it.
Cover with the second pastry sheet by making sure the edges are well stuck. Brush the top with the remaining egg yolk. (P likes to make some drawing on the top for fun too).

Bake for 20 to 30 min at 200°C.

And EAT! It is delicious warm.


  1. Oooh this looks yummy, and what a fun tradition! I love that the child plays such a major role.

  2. I loved the Galettes des rois when I lived in France. As it happens, I made one last night using a very similar recipe and it was lovely!


  3. Do you have any tips for how to keep the edges together so that the filling doesn't run out? :)

    1. Pinch them together really hard and apply a bit of egg yolk to bind them. I never had that problem though. The filling is not that runny.

  4. I've had some disasters in the past with a runny filling spilling out everywhere on the pan! (We still ate it, looked horrible, but still tasted so good :) Last year I tried another recipe that thankfully did not run and we were so impressed. Trying it with pistachio sound very good.


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