Learn how to bake the traditional French galette des rois with frangipane and a twist of tonka bean bringing stronger vanilla notes. The recipe comes with a step-by-step guide to making puff pastry from scratch.
I never thought I would share a galette des rois recipe on the blog. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy this traditional French cake served for Epiphany and throughout January in France. However, I had never made a puff pastry before and found it too advanced, too technical, and thought that none of you would take time to make it anyway. Of course, you could always use a ready-to-use puff pastry instead, but let’s be honest here: for a proper galette des rois, you will never reach the right texture with multiple layers by using a ready-to-use puff pastry – and believe me, I have tried many of them in the past.
As a result, I shared different Epiphany recipes over the last few years, excluding of course the traditional galette des rois… until I finally changed my mind. Or to be more exact, until someone helped me change my mind. As it turns out, one of my very good friends – a foodie – came to visit in Chicago for a few days and insisted we bake a galette des rois together. I was still not too sure (self confidence eludes me) but I’m glad we pushed my baking boundaries a little bit further to accomplish this new challenge together. That’s anyhow the only way we can progress in life, and starting with this already in January brings me confidence for this new year!
A few other recipes you might want to try for the Epiphany:
- Kings Cake from Provence
- Braided Almond Cream Wreath
- White Chocolate and Cardamom Wreath
- Swedish Cinnamon Star Bread (+ video)
Coming back to the galette des rois recipe, I threw myself into the water last weekend and baked it from scratch, crafting a step-by-step tutorial for the puff pastry in order to guide you when baking it. This way, you can follow the instructions one by one, making sure you don’t go wrong at any time in the recipe. I will not lie to you here, it is indeed with no surprise a little technical and it requires both time and patience. If you don’t have either of them at the moment, don’t blame yourself, there is absolutely no shame in it. You can still be a very good baking aficionado without baking your own puff pastry.
There are a few important things to keep in mind when baking a puff pastry. To begin with, you will notice that the recipe calls for only 3 basic ingredients, mainly flour and butter (+ water). At this stage, you start by preparing a beurre manié, i.e. a dough consisting in equal parts of soft butter and flour. By kneading the flour and butter together, the flour particles are coated in butter, preventing the latter from being too sticky when combined with flour later on. From now on, and until the end of the recipe, one rule is king: always work with a cold dough. If it’s too warm (even lukewarm), place it in the refrigerator until cold again.
Then, I count 2 tricky parts when making a puff pastry: the folding and turning part of course, and the ability to keep butter inside without poking through it at anytime. The folding and turning part was indeed the one I was most afraid of, but by following my step-by-step guide, you should be able to do it without getting lost. Following recommendations of a Pastry Chef friend, it’s important to take your time and leave the dough to rest/chill between turns, ideally once or twice during the process. For instance, start with 3 foldings and turnings the day before, and the remaining ones on the baking day.
As for the second point, it’s important to be very careful when you flatten the dough so that the butter does not come through at any time. It would damage the dough and make the puff layers uneven, which of course you do not want here. The best way to avoid this phenomenon is to gently flatten the dough with a rolling pin instead of rolling and stretching it out. If by accident it happens to you, do not feel defeated and try to hide the buttery part inside the next folding so that it is trapped between two layers of dough. When the puff pastry is ready to use, roll it out and cut 2 circles, one being 1 inch wider than the other.
Then it’s time to prepare the crème frangipane, which is a combination of a crème pâtissière and a crème d’amande (almond cream). Start with the crème pâtissière first, and then use only 3.5 oz (100g) of this preparation to combine with the almond cream. You will eventually end up with some puff pastry and crème pâtissière leftovers, and my advice is to use them to prepare a small sweet pie with crème pâtissière topped with fresh fruit of your choice. It never fails!
Last but not least, I flavored this traditional French galette des rois with tonka bean. If you’ve never heard of it before, the tonka bean is a small black and wrinkly seed from Central America with a smooth, brown interior. Its strong fragrance can be compared to a sweeter version of vanilla, with notes of almond. Mainly used in perfumes, it can also be grated and infused in desserts such as a crème brûlée or this crème frangipane for instance. If you don’t have any, just skip it and replace with vanilla extract instead.
Now before I leave you with the recipe, remember to hide a small fève in the galette des rois. The tradition wants that the one who gets the slice with the fève becomes king/queen and can then choose his/her other half.
- 7 oz (200g) beurre manié (= 5.3 oz/150g room temperature butter + 1.7 oz/50g flour)
- 2 cups + 1 Tablespoon (250g) all-purpose or pastry flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 5.3 oz (150g) water
- 1¼ cup (1/2 L) milk
- 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lenghtwise
- 5 yolks
- ½ cup (80g) sugar
- ⅓ cup (40g) flour + 2 Tablespoons (20g) cornstarch
- ⅓ cup + 1 Tablespoon (100g) softened butter
- ½ cup (100g) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon rum
- 1 cup (100g) almond flour
- 1 tonka bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 3.5 oz (100g) crème pâtissière*
- 1 yolk
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- BEURRE MANIÉ: rub buter with your finger tips, then add the flour in one addition. Rub in together butter and flour until a smooth dough. Shape into a thick, compact square. Wrap into cling film and place in the refrigerator.
- PUFF PASTRY : mix the flour with the salt, then turn out onto your work surface in a pile. Run your fingers down the center to create a trough. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of water into the trough. Quickly fluff the dough with your fingers, keeping your fingers loose and using a scooping motion. Gather the flour back in to a mound, create a trough, and add another Tablespoon of water. Continue sprinkling and fluffing until the flour clumps together in large pieces and holds together when pressed.
- Shape the dough into a cross with 4 arms, keeping the center part a little bit fluffy. Roll out each arm toward the outside, using a rolling pin. Place the beurre meunié in the center, then fold each arm of the dough over the butter so they meet in the middle. With the last arm, make sure to cover all over, including the sides.
- For the 1st turn: using a rolling pin, gently shape into a long rectangle 12 inches by 6 inches ((30,5 X 15 cm), tapping the dough rather than rolling it, so that you spread the butter from inside without piercing the dough. Fold the top third over the bottom third, and the bottom over the top third, like a letter. The first tour is done.
- For the other turns: rotate the folded dough so it looks like a book about to be opened. Roll it out again into a rectangle 12 inches by 6 inches. Fold it again. Make 6 turns in total. My advice: start with 3 tours, then wrap the dough into cling film and place in the refrigerator. Remove a few hours later, ideally the day after, and make the 3 remaining turns.
- CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE* : heat milk with vanilla in a medium saucepan, and stop when it starts bubbling. In a medium-size bowl, beat yolks with sugar until pale and fluffy. Add in the flour and hot milk, and whisk vigorously. Put it back in the saucepan and cook for a few minutes until the mixture thickens, whisking constantly. Pour into a medium-size bowl, and cover with cling film, creating contact with it to prevent from drying on top. Let chill in the refrigerator.
- ALMOND CREAM (CRÈME D'AMANDE) : in a medium-sized bowl, stir in butter and sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking between each addition. Pour the rum and the almond flour, and stir well. Grate the tonka bean and add in to the preparation (you can replace the tonka bean with vanilla extract).
- Withdraw 3.5 oz (100g) of crème pâtissière and combine with almond cream. You get a so-called crème frangipane*. Transfer the frangipane into a piping bag and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- TO ASSEMBLE: roll out the puff pastry in a long stripe. Cut in two circles, one of about 10.5 inch (28 cm), and the over one about 0.3 inch (1 cm) smaller.
- Place the smaller disk onto a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then pipe the frangipane into circles, starting from the center, leaving about 0.5 inch (1,5 cm) margin all over. At this point, don't forget to hide the fève. Cover with the second disk, and press with your thumb and make small cuts with a knife all around.
- FOR BRUSHING: whisk the yolk with maple syrup. Brush the galette des rois, and draw some patterns of your choice on top, using a small knife (just draw, do not cut through!).
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 350°F (180°C), or until the galette is golden-brown.
Recipe inspired by Chef Simon and following advice from French Pastry Chef Damien Foschiatti.