“What do you mean, in praise of January?” asked my husband, reading over my shoulder, “what is good about January?”

So I said the magic word: “Galette des Rois” (the Kings Cake), and his eyes lit up.

On the first of January, this famous cake pops up in patisseries all over France, and it disappears at the end of that month.

It commemorates the arrival of the three kings: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar carrying gifts of gold, incense and myrrh to the manger where Jesus was born. The three Magi, as they are called, reached their destination on January 6 after having traveled for many long days across the desert, guided by the star of Bethlehem.

The eating of the galette is cause for celebration in families all over France. Inside each cake, a porcelain charm has been hidden, representing one nativity character: A shepherd carrying a lamb on his shoulders, saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary, or one of the three kings.

If you get the charm in your portion of cake, you are declared king or queen for the day, a golden paper crown is set on your head and you get to choose your king or queen.

Not only is this one of my husband’s favorite cakes, but also my two grandchildren, and because they will not eat any other cake, I have learned to make it (without the charm inside, which I only insert in January).

Galette des Rois

Galette des Rois

Course Dessert
Cuisine French


Puff Pastry

  • 1 box Store Bought Puff Pastry Dufour Pastry Kitchens or White Toque are my preference.

The Filling for the Cake: Marzipan (or Almond Paste)

  • 1 ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup regular sugar
  • 3 ½ oz unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • tsp almond extract


Puff Pastry

  • Nowadays, you can find very good puff pastry in up-scale supermarkets or specialty stores. Two brand names are my favorites because they are made with butter only (I tried to make puff pastry once and it was such a long process and, at the end, such a disaster that I swore I would never try it again). I am sure there are other very good brands around but these two are carried by my local supermarket.
    I always have both boxes in my freezer. Frozen puff pastry can be defrosted over night in the refrigerator, or on the counter for one hour or so. Once defrosted, it cannot be frozen again.
    The Dufour box has one folded rectangular pastry sheet inside so it is ideal for baking hors-d’oeuvres while the White Toque box contains two rolled-up circles, ideal for cakes and pies.
    They are both very good.
  • The “White Toque” puff pastry comes as two rolled-up circles, and you will need both to make the cake.
  • Un-roll one of the circles and lay it flat on the parchment paper it was wrapped in. Slide the dough, with the paper underneath on a 13x15” baking sheet.

The Filling for the Cake: Marzipan (or Almond Paste)

  • Measure flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to blend.
  • Add butter cut in small pieces. Pulse again until butter is well mixed with flour/sugar mixture.
  • Add the two beaten eggs and the almond extract. Pulse again until blended.
  • Spread the marzipan paste on top of the uncooked dough, leaving 3/4 inch edge all around.
  • With a pastry brush dipped in cold water, wet the dough lightly around the marzipan without going over the edge.
  • Place the second, unfolded dough on top of the first one and squeeze the edges of the two doughs together with your fingers so that they adhere to each other, all around the cake.
  • Fold the pressed edges toward the center of the cake and, by pushing down with your fingers, make the folded edges adhere tightly to the top part of the cake .
  • With a knife, design a pattern on the edge and on the center of the cake.
  • Brush with one beaten egg mixed with a tbsp of milk.
  • At this point, refrigerate the uncooked cake for 1/2 hour and turn on the oven to a 400 F. degree temperature.
  • After 1/2 hour, take the cake out and brush it a second time with the egg/milk mixture.
  • Place immediately in middle shelf of the oven and bake at 400 degree F. for 10 minutes.
    Galette des Rois
  • Take the temperature down to 350 F. and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Pastry should be brown and puffed but when you take the cake out of the oven, the puffing will go down almost immediately.
  • If you don’t intend to eat the cake right away, it should be refrigerated, then, before serving it, re-heat it at 350 F. for 20 minutes or until nice and warm inside. It will not puff again but it should be crisp on the outside.


Marzipan paste can be frozen and will defrost very quickly on the counter. A good thing to know if you have a cake to make at the last minute: If you doubled the quantities the last time you made the recipe and froze half of it and also have some puff pastry in the freezer, then your galette can be made in twenty minutes.
Keyword Dessert, French Recipe, Galette des Rois