The King Cake
(La galette des Rois)

The King Cake or La galette des Rois, (the cake or "wafer" of the Kings) is a cake celebrated over Christmas and New Year. Traditionally sold and consumed a few days before and after.

This cake originates from northern france and is typically french.

In France, the custom of the cake has existed since the fourteenth century.

It symbolises the return of light after the long winter nights. The tradition dates back to the pre-christian feast of the 6th of january, and is linked to the feast of the epiphany.

These cakes can still be found in most bakeries during the month of January and now in most supermarkets all year round.

The King cake consists of flaky puff pastry layers, with a dense center of frangipane and traditionally, the meaning of the cake is “to bring the kings” to the Epiphany.

A figurine, which can represent anything from a car to a cartoon character, is hidden in the wafer and the person who obtains this trinket “la fève” (literally meaning the broad bean) becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake. Broad beans were initially used, but they were replaced in 1870 by figurines out of porcelain or - more recently - plastic.

Nevertheless, these trinkets are still called “fèves.” As they are very varied, the figurines are 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.

A paper crown is included with the king cake to crown the "king" who finds the fève in their piece of cake.

My son, Sam absolutely adores The King Cake, when you buy this cake in the supermarkets it comes with a 'gold crown' and the trinket inside, but you can make the crowns and place a little something inside, and make the cake!!

The only problem I had, was that Sam wanted to take the cake to school on his birthday to share it with his friends, but because of health and safety rules in France, you can't take homemade cakes into school, so we had to buy one. Of course, he didn't grumble!!!

Here's how to make it for yourself!!

The King Cake (La galette des Rois)

Ingredients

* 340g puff pastry
* 1 egg, beaten with 1/2 tsp salt

For the almond filling

* 125g or 4 1/2 oz of softened butter
* 125g or 4 1/2 oz of sugar
* 125g or 4 1/2 oz of whole blanched almonds, skinned and ground, (or buy prepared in a packet)
* 15g or 1/2oz of plain flour
* 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
* 2 tbsps of rum

Method

Top Tip:- always refrigerate puff pastry as it makes it much easier to work with

* To make the almond filling, cream the butter in a bowl and add the sugar then beat well

* add the egg and the egg yolk, and beat together

* stir in the ground almonds, flour and rum - the filling is ready!

* take half of your puff pastry, using a plate or pan lid, cut a circle about 10 inchs in diameter

* put on a lightly greased baking sheet

* take the other half and do the same, try and make the 2nd piece slightly thicker if poss!

* put your filling in the middle of the 1st piece leaving a good inch border

* brush the border with some beaten egg and place the 2nd piece on the top

* press edges together and brush all over with beaten egg

* place in the fridge for 20 mins

* preheat your oven to 220°C or Gas mark 7

* bake the gateau for about 30-35 mins, or until puffed up and golden

* best served warm

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