Galette des Rois season begins earlier and earlier. Originally intended to celebrate Epiphanie, the Feast of the Magi, on January 6, it now begins in December and lasts into February.
No one minds because what it means for all here in the north of France is lots of golden galettes with shattering puff pastry, filled with almond cream or apples or raspberry jelly or chocolate and almonds, studded with a cute little fève, or porcelain figurine, and accompanied by a gold paper crown. If you live in the south, the galette is traditionally made with brioche, doesn’t include almond cream, but does include a fève.
I buy several galettes during a season, and then I make several more. I just made two big ones for the wine tasting group I host once a month. Today, I made another for Fiona and her friends who were having lunch here. Now that Fiona is nearly fifteen, she no longer crawls under the table to choose who gets the first piece of the galette. Instead, this year, she placed the fève in the galette before I set the top layer of pastry on the filling. Let me correct that. She placed three fèves in the galette – one for her, and for each of her “copines.”
I adjusted my recipe this year. I flavored the almond cream with a drizzle of almond essence, and I put a layer of sautéed apples on top of it, before covering it with pastry. While I’m a traditionalist in love with plain almond cream filling, I have to admit this years’ version is sublime.
I don’t make my own puff pastry, though I could. But my friend Freddo-le-Patissier, at Aux Blés d’Or which I consider the best bakery in Louviers, sold me some of his. It turns the making of a galette into a real piece of cake.
(You can buy puff pastry too. Look for the brand that is made with butter – Dufour recommended).
Galette des Rois aux Pommes
Galette des Rois aux Pommes
Kings’ Cake with Apples
1 pound (500g) puff pastry (if the pastry is frozen, be sure to remove it from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before using, so that you can roll it out). Note: if you cannot find almond flour, grind ½ cup almonds with 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the almond cream to a fine powder.
Fève means, literally, bean, but it is used to describe the little figurines, which are generally pottery or porcelain, that go inside the galette des rois. You can use what you like – a dry bean, like the monks who invented the galette did, or a little figurine. Be sure to warn your guests that there is something hard inside the galette so teeth don’t suffer.
For the almond cream:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick;60g) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup (65g) vanilla sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 or 5 drops bitter almond extract, or to taste
½ cup (75g) finely ground almonds (also called almond flour or powder)
For the apples:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 medium apples (about 13 ounces;400g), peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced
For the egg glaze:
2 teaspoons water
1. Roll out the puff pastry to a very thin (1/8 inch; 1/4 cm) rectangle. Cut out one 10-inch (25cm) round and one 10-1/2 inch (26.25cm) round. Place them on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Reserve the scraps for another use.
2. Prepare the almond cream: in a medium-sized bowl, whisk the butter with the sugar until it is soft and well combined. (If you’ve used some of the sugar to grind whole almonds into powder, whisk in the remaining sugar with the butter). Whisk in the egg until the mixture is light, then whisk in the all-purpose flour, the vanilla extract and the bitter almond extract until thoroughly combined.
3. Stir in the almond flour gently, until they are combined. What almonds? None listed in the ingredients.
4. Whisk together the egg and the water, for the egg wash
5. While the pastry is chilling, heat the tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter is frothing, add the apples and stir, coating them with the butter. Cook, stirring and shaking the pan, until the apples are golden and almost tender through, about 7 to 10 minutes. Reserve.
6. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).
7. Assemble the galette: Remove the pastry rounds from the refrigerator. Place the cream in the center of the smaller round, and spread it out, leaving it thicker in the center, until it is about 2-1/2 inches (6-1/2 cm) from the edge of the pastry. Cover the almond cream with the apple slices, in a single layer. If you’re going to place a fève in the galette, now is the time. Top with the second round of pastry, lining up the edges with the bottom round of pastry.
8. Brush the galette with the egg wash then, using the blade of a very sharp knife, score the top of the galette, going nearly all the way through the pastry. Using the back of a knife blade (the dull edge), press it into the edges of the galette at regular intervals to make a scalloped edge. This helps the pastry rise evenly.
9. Bake the galette in the center of the oven until it is golden and puffed, and baked all the way through, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Serves 6 to 8