the quick and traditional recipe of the galette des rois

EPIPHANY. If the traditional date for the galette des rois is January 6, many French people will take advantage of this Sunday January 8, 2023 to taste it. Find on this page the recipe for pancake with frangipani.

[Mis à jour le 8 janvier 2023 à 10h44] It is an unmissable appointment at the beginning of each year. Although Epiphany is traditionally set on January 6 in the Christian calendar, a reform has moved the date to the second Sunday after Christmas, that is, this Sunday January 8, 2023. And it is therefore on this Sunday that many French people will gather around a delicious galette des rois. It remains to be seen whether you will taste the traditional frangipani galette, or opt for a more original taste by veering, for example, on a chocolate or apple galette.

There are also local variations of this tradition. Thus, in many regions, and especially in the south of France, people eat a brioche and not a galette. It can be coated with sugar and candied fruit. Find on this page a quick and easy recipe for galette frangipane, information about other types of galettes des rois, as well as an update on the origin and history of the galette.

The recipe for the modern Galette des Rois, with frangipani, can scare the less adventurous in the kitchen. However, it is one of the simplest. This is’add a puff pastry to the frangipane, i.e. a mixture of custard, butter, sugar and chopped almonds. It’s your turn :

“As simple as a homemade galette des rois”

Before discussing the galette des rois recipe, you still need to know which galette des rois to choose. Nowadays, the puff pastry and frangipane galette seems to have established itself in the collective imagination. But is the authentic galette des rois frangipane, brioche or candied fruit cake? Originally, galettes des rois were simple breads in which a bean was used as a bean. But gradually, different regions added their specificity to this flatbread.

The brioche, still in use in many regions, especially in the south of France, would therefore be the most traditional form of the galette des rois, as it is closest to a ball of bread. In the North, but also in Provence and Languedoc, it has become the “cake of kings”, covered in sugar and candied fruit. Frangipane was born in the seventeenth century on the initiative of Anna of Austria and her son Louis XIV. Puff pastry would thus have been born in Paris, so much so that it was nicknamed “the Parisian”. Today the galette des rois, consumed by 85% of the French, is mainly bought with frangipani (80%). But different recipes of Galettes des Rois therefore compete with each other, even if the one with frangipani is the favorite among the Galettes des Rois.

In the Christian imagination, the galette des rois refers to the three wise men. who, guided by a star, went to Bethlehem, to meditate in front of the manger where Jesus would be born, offering the child precious gifts. But we soon learn, upon examining the matter, that Epiphany (or its equivalent) was already celebrated long before the advent of the Christian religion.

First of all we are talking about a golden sweet, round in shape, a description that can recall the sun and therefore the cult of Saturnalia, also linked to the solstice, in winter as in summer. During these 7 days of celebration excesses were allowed and it was customary to offer sweets to those around you. A tradition which, in the Middle Ages, became that of the “cake of kings”. For some, the name would come from the fee that had to be paid to its lord at the same time. The royals usually accompanied themselves with a cake.

As for the fève, it would have preceded the galette since it also dates back to the Roman Empire. It was customary in ancient Rome to cast lots for the king of a feast using a black or white token. It is also said that a king was chosen in this way among the soldiers of a garrison or in a family during the Saturnalia and that he could thus, for one day, fulfill all his wishes and command all that he desired. A legend also reports another origin of the bean: the legend of the Peau d’âne, inspired by the story by Charles Perrault. It is therefore by forgetting his ring in a cake destined for the prince that Pelle d’asino would have inspired this strange custom.

In the end, the tradition of sending the youngest of the guests under the table to designate who receives each piece of the galette would arrive at the same time. Always during the Saturnalia, in fact, the landlord asked the youngest of the family, considered the most innocent, to designate to which guest he was to distribute the part he was holding. The child is therefore generally nicknamed Phoebe (for “Phœbus” or “Apollo”), in reference to an oracle of Apollo.

Epiphany is the result of a long tradition, which dates back to long before the birth of Jesus and results from the mixture of pagan and Christian traditions (as for Candlemas). Originally, in antiquity it was a question of celebrating the god Dionysus. God of the vine, of wine, but also of celebrations and excesses in Greek mythology, Dionysus is intimately linked to the seasons and therefore to the cycles of vegetation. The feast given in his honor in the middle of winter, and in conjunction with the winter solstice, would symbolize his resurrection, the return of light and therefore the rebirth of this vegetation.

Representation of Dionysus alias Bacchus, god of the vine and wine. © jharela / fotolia

We also evoke the pagan festival called “Saturnalia” to explain the origin of the Epiphany, as it is invoked in connection with the solstice. This time it was the god Saturn who was celebrated by the Romans. Once associated with agriculture and seeds, particularly thanks to a sickle he carries in his right hand, this god remains relatively mysterious. “Sleeping” for most of the year, he was reborn among the Romans in the heart of winter, at the “twilight of the year”, that is, the period which, this time, preceded the winter solstice. More generally, it symbolized the protection of the “ties” of the family and the city.

In the first Christian communities of the East, in the fourth century, this feast began to be associated with the period following the birth of Jesus. Epiphany was born and corresponds to a “manifestation” in ancient Greek. In other words: after having celebrated the birth of Jesus stricto-sensu during Christmas, Christians will begin to celebrate the “messiah”, that is, the providential figure he represents. We must therefore look for the signs of this messiah, that is, the first manifestations that authenticate Christ. There are three at the beginning of Christianity: some evoke the first miracle performed by Jesus at the wedding of Cana, others speak of his baptism in the water of the Jordan, but closer to his birth, the first “manifestation” of his sacred character is quickly associated with the search and worship of the Magi who themselves recognized the Messiah shortly after his birth.

January 6, 12 days after Christmas, thus becomes the very first sacred feast of the liturgical calendar. In the West, Epiphany will gradually absorb ancient Roman and pagan traditions, and we will gradually gather around a dessert to celebrate it. However, the acceptance of the galette des rois has not been easy : Lutherans, Calvinists and even some Catholics for a time rejected this pagan custom. In 1664, the canon of Senlis confided in speeches in particular that he was against the somewhat too festive side of the galette.

What is the date of Epiphany in 2023?
When will you eat galette des rois in 2023? It all depends on whether you decide to strictly follow the custom or not. Epiphany is traditionally fixed in the Christian calendar on January 6, i.e. twelve days after the birth of Jesus according to the Roman liturgy. January 6 which regularly falls in the middle of the week (a Friday this year 2023) after the grades of Happy New Yearhowever, a reform moved the date to the second Sunday after Christmas, that is, almost systematically, to the first Sunday after 1 January. The galette des rois can therefore be cut on this date, at least in countries that do not have a public holiday dedicated to the Epiphany. But rest assured, the bakeries and patisseries aren’t stopping anytime soon, e.g you can taste the galette des rois this Sunday January 8, and at least until mid-January !

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