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Galette des Rois | King's Cake


The Galette des Rois (King's cake) is a wonderful French tradition that is not only a sweet winter treat but extends the Christmas holiday, creating an occasion to once again gather and raise a glass or two. It celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th, commemorating the three Kings' visit to Baby Jesus. French households normally eat the galette on the first Sunday of January, though many like to get together around the cake throughout the month of January, each time at a different home. This is what my husband did growing up, recalling how adults used this opportunity for more champagne while the children enjoyed apple cider.

The galette is made up of flaky layers of pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) and frangipane (almond paste filling). Hidden inside the cake is a fève (porcelain trinket), many so charming and worthy of being collected that families can end up with hundreds over time. A lot of French bakeries have replaced the porcelain fève, which was originally a broad bean, with plastic charms. Upon serving up the galette, whoever ends up with the prized slice is crowned king or queen for the day, dons a golden paper couronne (crown), and chooses their royal partner...

Last weekend, in accordance with French tradition, my younger boy slipped under the table and called out our names to direct the server while distributing each slice, essentially creating randomness in the serving. Beforehand (good thing my 7 year-old son isn't reading this -- yet!), my husband carefully searched for the slice with the fève to ensure it got to our older son, which further ensured some peace in the household following the ritual.

One last tradition worth noting is that long ago, upon cutting the cake it was common to reserve one slice of the galette for any unexpected person that might show up at the door. This piece was called the Part du Bon Dieu/Vierge/Pauvre or the share of God/Virgin Mary/the Poor...


  1. It's a marvelous tradition and you captured the sweetness of the occasion in your post & gorgeous shots! I love your husband's "strategy":)

    1. Without that strategy, the tradition wouldn't have been so marvelous Lulu! I look forward to it every year and wonder what will happen when my younger son gets older (!)... we may have to ask (beg) the baker to place two fèves inside the galette :)

  2. Aw, what a beautiful tradition! We didn't do anything like this for the Feast of the Epiphany. I think we'll have to make up for it next year! I love your macro images, and I LOVE your son's curl in his bangs. Adorable! Thank you for sharing your sweet tradition, Catherine. p.s. I want those paper crowns :)

    1. Why thank you Charmaine! One of my sons has pencil straight hair (like me) and the other soft little curls (like my husband when he was small) ... so funny. and amazing really. The galette is available in lots of bakeries in the US these days,... so next January you'll have to tell me who becomes king or queen in your household! :) Unfortunately the little crown lasted less than a day (you can imagine what happened to it!)...


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