Wednesday 30 January 2013

Kings' Cake anyone?

Kings’ Cake anyone?
Now, this is definitely one tradition that would be a welcome new addition in the ApLingo office.  Forget New Year diets and health kicks, we think countries such as France and Spain have definitely got it right with this most sociable and delicious custom to brighten up dark, depressing Januarys.

In France, these cakes, or ‘galettes des rois’, are baked for Epiphany on 6 January and then consumed throughout the month –at friends’ houses, in the office, in schools – pretty much everywhere!  And if there is a nice glass of cider or sweet white wine to wash it down with, even better! 

Whoever finds a fève in the ‘galette’ becomes a king for the day.  This tradition dates back to Roman times, when a real bean would be baked into the cake, similar to our traditional coin in the Christmas pudding.  Nowadays, the fève is generally a small figurine and the person who finds it in his or her slice receives it as a keepsake.

Spain, Portugal and Latin American countries all have a similar Epiphany tradition, with several variations of the ‘fève’ theme and in Italy carnival cakes are shared around neighbourhoods. 
We can’t think of a nicer way to add a bit of warmth and cheer to these dark winter evenings, so next year we’ll be making our own Kings’ cakes too.  Here’s the recipe in case you want to join us :)

puff pastry

2 round sheets of puff pastry

almond mixture (you can double the quantities if you have a sweet tooth!)

1 egg

75g caster sugar

50g good quality unsalted butter

100g ground almonds

A few drops of almond extract


1 egg yolk


1 fève (lucky charm)


1.                   Place one sheet of puff pastry on a greased baking sheet.

2.                   •Prepare the almond mixture: soften the butter and add the sugar. Beat strongly to obtain a smooth texture. Add the ground almonds, then the egg and the almond extract.

3.                   •Place the almond mixture in the centre of the round-shaped pastry and spread it evenly up to 2cm away from the edge. Add the fève near the edge (if you add it near the centre, it might be easily discovered when cutting the cake!).

4.                   •Cover the base with the second round-shaped pastry and make sure the two pastry sheets are stuck down together, otherwise the almond mix may slip away from the cake when cooking. You may use a little water to join the two sheets along the edges.

5.                   •Make an egg wash with the egg yolk and a little water and using a pastry brush, brush all over the top.

6.                   •With a knife, carefully trace decorative shapes (diamonds, flowers or any other creative designs). Make sure you don’t press too hard in order to avoid piercing the pastry.

7.             •Cook in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees C for about 40 minutes. Our advice is to check on it regularly as we found our oven cooked it a lot quicker (25 mins).

8.             •Cook the galette for a further 5 minutes at 220 degrees C to enable the sugar to cook slightly and create a shiny effect. Take out of the oven.

9.             •Eat the cake lukewarm and enjoy the party!


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