Every year, just after Christmas, the galettes des rois grace the displays of bakeries across France.
The history of the galette des rois
The tradition of the galette des rois dates back to the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, which took place from December to January.
During this festival, the Romans indulged in the fanciful practice of naming a slave temporary king for a day.
This intriguing ritual, imbued with playful symbolism, has a slight echo in the modern custom of the king's cake.
The French king cake tradition
The traditional ritual of the galette des rois is both delicious and democratic.
Seated around the table, the participants take part in a ceremonial sharing of the galette. The youngest among them plays the role of honor, often hidden under the table, guiding the equitable distribution of the slices among the guests. At each slice, the names are announced, adding suspense and joviality to the ritual.
At the heart of the galette des rois is the hidden 'bean'. Over the centuries, this symbolic token has evolved from a humble bean to complex porcelain figurines.
Originally representing characters from the nativity scene, today's fava beans take on a variety of forms, from whimsical cartoon characters to abstract representations.
The discovery of a bean in its slice designates the lucky winner as the king or queen of the day, adding a playful element of royalty to the occasion.
The different types of galette des rois in France
Across the varied landscapes of France, a delicious assortment of regional interpretations of the french king cake awaits to be explored:
The frangipane galette
The delicious frangipane galette is a popular version of this royal treat. Although enjoyed throughout France, it is particularly popular in the Paris region.
Delicate layers of puff pastry envelop a rich almond cream, offering a symphony of flavors to the palate.
The butter one
Heading further north, we come across the butter galette, a delicious delicacy. In full swing in the Nordic territories, this version features a sumptuous butter custard filling, enhanced by nuanced notes of rum or kirsch. Each bite promises a decadent journey through layers of richness.
The brioche French king cake
In the south of France, particularly in Provence, the "couronne des Rois" emerges as a regal spectacle. Taking on the form of a crown sculpted from brioche pastry, infused with rum or orange blossom, this crown is adorned with glistening jewels of candied fruit and delicate sugar crystals.
This version transcends borders, finding resonance in the culinary traditions of Spain and Portugal, uniting cultures through its irresistible allure.
Don't forget to order our galette des rois here.