The French have the privilege to be kings and queens at least once a year so why wouldn't you do the same? It's true, you don't have a castle like the Versaillers, but you can bake the galette des rois (=French king cake) using this simple recipe - courtesy chef Simon - and be king for a day. And slave at the gym for the rest of the week, but that's another, less glamorous, story.
This family sweet pie is traditionally eaten at Epiphany (first Sunday of January), but I've seen it appearing in the stores right after Christmas and I know that some of my French friends make it or buy it and eat it during the whole month of January, so you'll have more than enough time to practice the kinghood, Your Highness!
The youngest child (or any child, after harsh, love-filled, brotherly negotiations) has the honor to hide under the table to tell the adult in charge with cutting the pie who's going to receive which part. A small token is hidden in the pie, la fève (at its origins it must have been a real bean) and the trick is that who's going to find it (if she doesn't choke, in the first place!) will be crowned the king or queen of the day. A factice golden crown is awarded to the lucky one, which is proudly carried on throughout the day and s/he will be able to choose him- herself a queen or a king and sometimes the whole court if the family has enough members.
So, the king cake is a puff pastry sweet pie with an almond cream filling, extremely easy to make if you have the ready-made puff pastry.
Almond cream filling:
100g powdered almonds
a pinch of salt
rhum or other flavoring
Cut two disks of puff pastry, one slightly bigger than the other. Take the smaller disk, place the almond cream in the center, letting about one cm empty at the border, then glaze the empty border with egg yolk. Add the fève somewhere in the almond cream. Place carefully the larger puff pastry disk on top, pressing gently the borders in order to seal the pie then cut the excess. Make small incisions on the pie top to form a nice pattern (diamond shape or sunrays or whatever) then make a hole to help eliminate the forming steam. Glaze with egg yolk.
Bake for about 20-30 min at 200° or until it's golden brown.
Bon appétit !