Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Galette de rois (French king cake)


This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

Indianapolis is over 800 miles away from the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the colorful cultural phenomenon!

It’s important to remember that Mardi Gras is the culmination of the Carnival season. Carnival kicks off on January 6 every year (Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day) and ends on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), which is always the day before Ash Wednesday. 

People down south celebrate throughout the entirety of Carnival season with dozens of parades, many gatherings, indulgent foods, and lots of alcohol. 

I’ve never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but my cousin Caitlyn lives in New Orleans with her fiancé Ranh, who was born and raised in the Big Easy. So they filled me in on what it’s like to immerse yourself in Carnival culture.

Many of us conjure up images of king cake when we think of Mardi Gras. Even in Indiana, you can find king cakes at bakeries and grocery stores at this time of year. King cake is traditionally made with brioche dough, filled with a cinnamon-sugar mixture, braided, formed into a wreath shape, and decorated with traditional Mardi Gras colors: yellow, green, and purple. And of course, there is a tiny baby baked inside the cake. 

King cake is extremely popular in New Orleans, and almost every bakery comes up with their own version. You can expect to find tables of king cakes at Carnival celebrations, and some people eat dozens of different king cakes each year!

The French brought the king cake tradition to New Orleans in the 1800s. They have been serving up galette des rois, which literally translates to “king cake,” for over 500 years. The most popular galette de rois, which is served in Paris and northern France, is made of frangipane sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry. Frangipane is a sweet almond filling. And the top always has an intricate design. Also, instead of baking a tiny baby in the cake, the French hide a fava bean. Whomever finds the bean is king for the day and gets to wear a gold crown. 

The tradition of eating galette de rois was once reserved for Epiphany, but that’s expanded. Now you can find them in bakeries throughout the entire Carnival season with flavors ranging from chocolate to caramel and even rice pudding!

Today, I’m sharing a recipe for galette des rois with the traditional frangipane filling, but I’m adding a little orange flavor to brighten it up.

The recipe starts with puff pastry. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can certainly make your own, but I’m using store-bought puff pastry. My favorite store-bought puff pastry is from Trader Joe’s, but unfortunately, it’s seasonal. I always stock up when it’s available in November and December. My second favorite store-bought puff pastry is from Wewalka. It’s refrigerated, not frozen, so you can find it in the refrigerated dough section of your grocery store.

Once you’ve made or obtained the puff pastry, it’s time to make the frangipane. You can either start with whole almonds, almond meal, or almond flour. Whole almonds become almond meal when you blend them in a food processor. Almond flour is almost always interchangeable with almond meal. Almond flour is just blanched, peeled almonds ground into a fine powder. I am using almond flour because that’s what I have in my pantry. My frangipane recipe is adapted from the Tartine cookbook. It’s made with equal parts almonds, sugar, and butter, and it produces a slightly “cakey” filling. 

It’s important to use good quality butter in your recipe because it makes a tremendous difference in your final product. I use Challenge European Style Butter. It’s churned slower and longer, in the tradition of fine European butters, to produce a more flavorful butter with less moisture and higher butterfat.

In the tradition of galette de rois, it’s important to hide a fava bean in the filling before encasing it with the top layer of puff pastry. If you don’t have a fava bean, use a whole almond (that’s what I did).

After building the galette, you can create a scalloped edge by making tiny indents around the edge of the pastry with the non-sharp edge of a knife. 

Once you’ve done that, I recommend chilling the galette for at least a half hour before scoring a design on top because the puff pastry will be a little firmer and you’ll be less likely to cut through it. When you’re ready, you can create any design you want. Then you’ll want to brush egg wash over it so it bakes shiny and golden brown. Make sure you don’t brush the edges with egg wash because it will prevent the layers from puffing up. Before placing it in the oven, make a few little cuts in the top layer of puff pastry to allow steam to escape.

After you’ve finished baking your galette de rois, brush it with simple syrup for a shiny finish and adorn it with a golden paper crown before serving. Whomever receives the slice of cake with the whole almond gets to wear the crown!

Galette des rois 

Yield: 12 servings


For the frangipane 

  • 200 grams (3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons) Challenge European Style Butter Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 200 grams (2 1/3 cups) almond flour (or almond meal)
  • 2 Tablespoons orange zest (from 1 orange)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons Grand Marnier
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the galette

  • 2 circles puff pastry dough about 9 inches in diameter
  • 1 whole almond or fava bean
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water)

For the simple syrup

  • 50 grams (3 Tablespoons) water
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar


For the frangipane

  1. Beat butter and sugar with mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add almond flour and beat until combined.
  3. Add eggs, Grand Marnier, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt. Mix until smooth. 

For the galette

  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and place one puff pastry circle on sheet.
  2. Leaving 1-inch border, evenly spread frangipane in center of circle.
  3. Hide whole almond or fava bean in frangipane.
  4. Brush diameter with egg wash
  5. Position second puff pastry circle on top so edges line up with first circle. Press around border with fingertips to seal.
  6. Use back of table knife to create scallop border by pressing into dough every 1/2 inch.
  7. Place galette de rois in refrigerator to firm up for at least a half hour.
  8. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  9. Etch design into top of galette making sure not to pierce through dough.
  10. Brush egg wash over design.
  11. Use sharp knife to make several tiny cuts in top piece of puff pastry for steam vents.
  12. Bake cake for about 15 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and it looks golden brown.

For the simple syrup

  1. While galette bakes, make simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in small saucepan and bring to boil.
  2. Set aside to cool.
  3. After removing galette de rois from oven, brush simple syrup over surface and serve.


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