La galette des rois, or kings’ cake (not king’s, it’s plural!), is a very simple and a very elegant concoction served on the Twelfth Night, or Epiphany, to commemorate the wise men - or kings - visiting baby Jesus.
Of course it’s simple and elegant - it’s French.
Made from shop-bought puff pastry, for who still makes puff pastry at home, save for one television baking show finalist? Making puff pastry might be a bit of fun, just like having a go at making your own pasta from scratch, but with the quality of shop-bought and the hassle involved (in both cases), would you really bother? I wouldn’t.
The filling is frangipane cream and that’s also the simplest thing: whizz butter with sugar and egg, add ground almonds and you have the best filling for tarts, tartelettes and galettes.
There are some lovely traditions associated with the galette: a ‘fève’ is hidden inside the cake - a tiny china figurine or an almond - and the lucky person to find it (and not choke on it) is crowned a king or queen for the carnival. Another tradition requires the cake to be cut into as many slices as there are diners with one surplus; to be given to a poor person should one turn up at the door.
The varieties include filling with apricot jam alongside the frangipane but I went for the classic pear and almond pairing, as recommended by Raymond Blanc.