Happy Epiphany! Or, well, ya know, belated Epiphany (it was on Jan. 6). Not sure what you call it - or if you even celebrate it - but Epiphany marks the day when the Three Wise Men (kings) arrived to bestow gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh on the newborn Jesus.
Epiphany also goes by King’s Day, Three King’s Day, 12th Night OR 12th Day depending on if you start counting the 12 days of Christmas ON Christmas, or on the day after Christmas, but where I come from it’s known as the start of King Cake season (also known as Mardi Gras season or Carnivale).
You can’t see it but I’m doing a sick air guitar solo right now since I’m so excited!
The way we celebrate Epiphany back home is to enjoy the first King Cake of the season that day (I wrote an entire post about it last year) before gorging ourselves on many, many more King Cakes throughout the season. (They don’t call us Fat City for nothing! 🤷🏻)
However, this year I decided to return to my pastry roots and make another traditional confection used to celebrate Epiphany - un Galette de Rois (French translation of King Cake). A Galette de Rois is typically found in the northern regions of France, whereas the southern regions celebrate with a cake that is much closer to the style of King Cake I wrote about last year (and will probably make in the next week or so).
Galettes de Rois are typically comprised of a buttery, flaky crust, stuffed with an amazing filling called frangipane (sometimes it’s filled with almond cream, they’re pretty similar fillings), then topped with another buttery, flaky crust, and brushed with an egg wash for that classic French deep color and shine.
The crust on a Galette de Rois is made from a laminated dough, meaning that it is dough wrapped around a butter sheet, then folded on top of itself and rolled out several times over. Think croissants with all of their layers - that’s a laminated dough. We won’t talk about the crust on my galette today because it’s store bought since I didn't feel like rolling out that much dough. #LazyPastryChef However, I did the same thing for some Cookie Butter twists in a previous post, and those turned out to be super delicious, too.
In a traditional Galette de Rois, one would hide a fêve in the filling before baking it. The word fêve literally translates to a fava bean, but in reference to the galette, it is merely a bean or piece of candied fruit that is hidden in the galette. Something that won’t kill you like the plastic babies we used to hide in the king cakes in New Orleans (tourists kept choking on them so we legally aren’t allowed to do that anymore).
Tradition states that whomever gets the fêve in their slice gets to be king for a day. (Make sure you eat this for breakfast so you can be king all day long!) #PlanAccordingly Back home, if you get the baby in your slice of cake, you have to buy the next king cake. #NotQuiteSoRoyal
I chose to fill my galette de rois with almond cream, but I had some delicious raspberry jam on hand, too, so I piped a bit of that onto my filling before I covered it. #DELISH You’ll see in my video that I used an egg wash to seal the two crusts together. An egg wash is basically an egg glaze that is used on a lot of French doughs before baking. Really it’s all about the aesthetics: French pastries need to have that deep brown color and a glossy shine. I used to think that you had to have a specific recipe for an egg wash, but here’s your tip of the week: you don’t. All I did was crack one egg into my bowl and added a pinch or two of salt, then beat them together. The trick with egg wash is that you want to cover every bit of your pastry crust with the egg wash to give it that classic sheen.
Side note: Once I was working in a restaurant that was heavily supported by fresh breads made in house (we called the employees who made the breads from scratch "the bread team”) in addition to the desserts that were crafted and compiled for guests to enjoy after dinner. (We were called "the dessert team”. Super inventive naming techniques for our teams.)
I made friends with the people on the bread team through our love of belting Whitney Houston songs at the top of our lungs for the whole kitchen's entertainment, and one day when they were short staffed (it happened all the time), I jumped over to the bread team's table to help out with whatever I could. Many duets ensued.
The team leader handed me an egg wash, a brush, and several trays of somethings (for the life of me I can’t remember what they were. Yeast rolls, maybe?) that needed to be egg washed, so I set to work. After about 40 seconds of me egg washing the somethings while whisper-screaming, "DON'T YOU WANNA DANCE, SAY YOU WANNA DANCE, DON'T YOU WANNA DANCE?" at the trays, he came back over to me, checked on my work, and said “Oh thank God! You have no idea how many people on the team don’t know how to do that correctly!” I was puzzled because I thought it was sort of obvious, you just try to hit the highest note possible while singing the word "HEAT", but then I realized he was talking about my egg washing skills. So since egg washing technique is apparently not obvious either, here’s what you need to know: coat every bit of raw dough. Every nook and cranny. All of the sides. All of the edges. Everything. The coating seals the pastry together and makes it look nice and pretty and shiny.
Whitney approves! 👍🏼
There is an exception, and you’ll notice it in my video: I did not coat the sides of my galette. The reason is that I did not want to seal the edges together because I know this pastry well enough to know how much it rises. If I had sealed the sides, the edges would have been glued together and we would have ended up with a domed pastry instead of an all around thickness with those beautiful layers around the sides. Keep this tip in mind if you want to make sure your pastries rise uniformly. Also for the sake of being thorough, do not coat things like raw fruit or custards/fillings if they are visible. Only the dough.
After my galette had mostly finished baking, I took it out of the oven and coated it with some sugar. I turned my broiler on and brûléed the sugar so the galette had a nice thin crunch on top when you bit into it - much like the top of a crème brûlée. C’est bon!
I have been advised repeatedly to show my face on camera quite a bit more than I have been. Mostly I choose not to be on camera because I wear a very concentrated look while I'm working (plus I'm generally just looking down the whole time #boring) and it's not very entertaining. Maybe I'll have to karaoke a few more Whitney Houston songs to loosen up on camera. Anyway, here is my first attempt - I reminded myself to smile at one point toward the end. I hope this suffices! 🙈
Are you making any King Cakes or Galettes de Rois this Carnivale season? Post your photos - or questions if you need help - below!
Happy eating, y’all!
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