All hail the king

…the king’s cake, in any case, aka la galette des rois. For those of us not up on Catholic culture, the Epiphany is January 6 and it marks the 12 drummers a drummin’, as in the last day of Christmas, which is a pretty big deal in Catholic countries like France. To celebrate there is a cake made of flaky pastry crust and traditionally filled with frangipane, which is pastry chef lingo for an almond paste blend. These days chefs get creative making them with hazelnuts (Poilane), pistachios (Eric Kayser) and even chocolate (Jean Paul Hévin).

The cakes are good, although to be honest, I find them a bit dry and too buttery for my palette and I’d be rather slathering fat on my hips via a tangy tarte au citron or a simple chocolate, but this doesn’t stop me from gobbling them up the instant they hit the pastry counter every January. Being a Material Girl, I’m addicted to the tradition that comes with the cakes; each cake hides a fève (bean) and whoever gets the piece of cake with the “bean” is the king or queen for the day, in honor of Melchior, Balthazar and Caspar. The cakes are sold with a crown, sometimes two, so the king can choose his queen (or vice versa). If strutting around in the house wearing a crown and getting to boss my indolent teens around for a day was not tempting enough, the modern “bean” is usually a small porcelain model that people love to collect. It may be a character from Tintin, or a gorgeous pastry, it may be an Eiffel Tower, or a vintage coke bottle. Being a practical girl and not into things that attract dust, my very favorite fèves are the ones you can wear, so every year, as magazines and food bloggers scope out the best galette in Paris and debate the merits of the galettes sliding out of the ovens at Du Pain et Des Ideées v Jacques Genin, I’m pounding the sidewalk looking for the best fèves in town.

In years past, I cracked for the oak leaf crown porcelain rings at Polaine (2006) and the crown adorned pendants at the Bon Marché (2011). This year our first galette came from Mulot bakery, which a gold ring fèves that is fun to wear on the pinkie and this weekend, for the real Epiphany I plan on doing my shopping at Dalloyau, which is rumoured to have porcelain star pendants.


C’est la galette des rois. Chouette. Après 5 semaines à me gaver comme un oie (nous, les américains, on commence fin novembre avec Thanksgiving, puis c’est mon anniv, et Hanukkah, suivi par petite soirée pour décorer le sapin avec nos gosses…) nous voilà le 1e janvier, ma poche pleine de bonnes résolutions ; faire du sport, m’abstenir de l’alcool et perdre les 4 kilos que j’ai de trop… mais non, parce que, c’est la galette des rois !!!

À vrai dire, je ne suis pas fan de ce gâteau avec sa pâte feuilletée un peu trop sèche pour mon goût, mais je suis une accro confirmée des fèves. Surtout les fèves bijoux qu’on peut sortir de sa boîte à bijoux le 1 janvier et porter pendant toute le mois. Les fèves comme ma bague en porcelaine doré, decorée en couronne de feuille de chène (Poilane – 2006) ou le pendentif avec une couronne de princesse (La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché – 2011).

Les autres, les foodies et les journalistes vous parleront de la meilleure galette de l’année. Ils pourront vous guider parmi le choix extraordinaire à Paris, vous expliquer la différence entre Du Pain et Des Ideées et Jacques Genin. Moi, j’en sais rien, pâte d’amande, blah, blah, blah, moi je passe mon temps a chercher mes fèves. Cette année j’ai entendu parlé d’un pendentif chez Dalloyau et on a déjà commencé avec la bague en métal doré de Gérard Mulot. Trop minou et ça va être encore plus mignon en pendentif sur un ruban de soie… Un bon début pour l’année 2013…

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5 thoughts on “All hail the king

  1. The Franch realy seem to do tradition really well. Never mnd all this eprivation with resolutions, like the rest of us, lets really indulge with PASTRY! yay!

    These pictures are torture.
    , I have gorged on chocolate for the past two weeks, not been able to cycle because i hurt my back and put on 4 kg. Next week I am going to Paris again, so heaven help me!
    I LOVE Jaques Genin, he wins my prize anytime, and you have reminded me it is just nearby our apartment so I thnk Lizzie and I will be paying a visit.

    Congratulations on the bilingual blog..But it is all confusing to me!

    Love Denise

  2. After missing out on “la fève” last night, I’m busy plotting my strategy for tomorrow. I think that we’ll try a Poilane Three Kings Cake because I read that they often have special flavors, like myrrh & frankincense. I can’t even begin to imagine what that would taste like – kingly, I suspect!

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