Some call it ‘Galette des Rois’, others ‘Epiphany cake’. It remains one of the small things I miss from France. And to make matters even worse, I have always had a sweet tooth. I probably always will. It’s so difficult to change at my (ripe) age…That’s my excuse anyway.
The thing is, people keep tweaking the recipe of the King Cake. You can find some with raspberries, chocolate or even apples. No, no and no. I want the galette des rois of my childhood, not new trendy recipes. Let’s just stick to basics, shall we? I am sure they are all delicious, but why would I want to try out new fancy cakes when all I want is the original cake? I am risk-adverse, you see.
That’s is, I sound like like my late grandmother.
So what am I talking about? Well, a King Cake is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany. The cake often has a small plastic or porcelain inside, and also a bean. The person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket or the bean has various privileges and obligations (including wearing a crown). For health and safety reasons, the trinket and the bean are now often given separately.
I grew up knowing of two types of ‘galettes des rois’. One was a brioche and you could only find it in Provence. I have never seen one in a bakery in London, so I ended up baking my own version of it. I love making it, and eating it. If you ask me, there is something therapeutic in kneading flour to make brioche.
So, here is how to do it:
Ingredients / 8 people
- 400 g flour
- 10 g of yeast
- 50g sugar
- 1 pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- 150 g soft butter
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 1 lemon zest
- 50 g candied fruit
- Nib sugar
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
In a bowl, place the flour. Mix the yeast with a tablespoon of orange blossom water. Make a little well in the flour, and pour the yeast mixed with the orange blossom water.
Add sugar, salt, eggs and lemon zest. Mix everything by hand, to get a slightly sticky dough.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and begin to knead until the dough is firm.
Gradually add the soft butter while working the dough, and knead vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on your method) once all the butter has been added.
Form a ball, put it back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 6 hours at room temperature.
Then put the dough in the fridge or a colder place, and leave overnight. The next day, remove the dough from te bowl. Then work it a little and let it stand for 5 minutes. Then add the diced candied fruits.
Make a hole in the middle of the dough and stretch it so as to form a crown. Cover and let rise 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Brush the cake with a beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes. Let it cool and then brush the parts of the uncovered crown with nib sugar. To make the sugar stick I use the apricot jam: I heat it with a teaspoon of organic blossom water. and use it as ‘glu’. Also paste candied fruits to make it look nice. Voila!
The other version is with frangipani. I like it too, but somehow this year I missed the one from Provence. That said, the almond King Cake is available in most bakeries in London.
Right, it’s now time to enjoy a slice…