Thursday, January 6, 2011

Twelfth Night - Christmas Cake #12 - Galette du Roi

January6, 2011. Twelfth Night. Epiphany. The beginning of the Mardi Gras Carnival Season. Tonight is the night that we celebrate with our Galette du Roi, or King Cake. Growing up in New Orleans meant one kind of King Cake, but living here in Baton Rouge I have found another variety. This cake comes from a bakery in Lafayette, Louisiana named Poupart's. We get our poor boy bread from Poupart's the rest of the year and it is almost as good as the King Cake. There are only about two or three places to get Poupart's items in Baton Rouge and my neighborhood grocery is one of them. We are very lucky.

 This time of the year we make sure to get to the grocery store early enough to get one of the King Cakes that they deliver to Baton Rouge each day. Last year I waited until January 6th to go get one, and "OH, NO", there were none to be had! I was at the store yesterday and there they were - only three left! I quickly picked one out and put in into my grocery cart. I certainly was not going to run the chance of missing out again this year.

Of course, if you do happen to be too late almost every grocery store in town has King Cake by the dozens. When we moved away from Louisiana there was only one kind of cake - the traditional cinnamon and sugar filled breakfast cake sort, topped with that purple, yellow, and green sugar.  When we returned after nine years away, oh my gosh! Blueberry, cream cheese,  banana split, strawberry, caramel - well , you get the picture. But for me, none of these has quite the magical powers as the original King Cake. That is,not until I discovered Poupart's Galette du Roi.

Ah, this is a cake indeed. It is a puff pastry concoction with an almond paste filling. It is light as a cloud, with a whisper of almond that seems to float above the plate when you cut into it hot from the warming oven.

Peeping out of the top of the cake is the "baby" and whoever gets the piece within which it hides is crowned the King or Queen. This lucky person will rule over the evening's revelry and will also provide the cake for the next week's gathering. These babies have suffered the indignities heaped upon them by the modern food and safety regulations, and the baby can no longer be baked into the cake for fear of someone choking on it. So the bakeries perch the pink baby either on top of the cake or hide it under the cake for the buyer to place somewhere inside the cake. I remember the days when I was much younger and the baby was a glass doll about an inch high that was in the cake. But most usually it is the pink plastic baby that we find (or hide!) See his head sticking out down there in the lower right hand corner?? If that's your piece, you rule!

There are many recipes for King Cake, but traditionally every family in the city has their favorite bakery from which they buy their cakes. And truth be told, it is a whole lot easier to just run by and pick one up than it is to spend the day in the kitchen watching over rising brioche dough! And certainly much easier than making puff pastry sheets and then making the galette du roi. So, let's enjoy this right now!

For the next few days we will be studying the rest of our Christmas Cakes. They are, obviously, not just good at Christmas time but rather all year long.


  1. I've read about these cakes before... this is probably silly - but 1) where do you buy the "little babies" 2) doesn't the plastic baby melt during the baking? 3) does the baby sit in a coveted place to reside over the festivities?
    thought I'd ask...

  2. Christine, I have never tried to buy the babies but I think that most hobby and craft stores have them in the party supplies sections (baby showers come to mind.) The babies are not baked in the cakes any longer, and to tell the truth, I don't know if they ever were actually baked into the cakes. When the small porcelain dolls were used there was no problem with anything melting during the baking. I would imagine that they were just shoved into the cake from beneath - I do remember being told not to peek under the cake to see where the baby was!
    Alas, I am not sure that there is any tradition about where the baby sits during the party - but the gold crown pictured above would be perched at a jaunty angle on the ruling Monarch's head. The baby was most likely given over to any child in the vicinity to add to their collection. I do know some people who have every baby they have ever gotten in their piece of King Cake - just put them all in a glass container and show them off!!

  3. thanks for the response... I love learning about new traditions! and I'm thrilled you checked in on WEEKWORD. Did you find out about it from the BYW listserv or from another WEEKWORD participant?

  4. Hi Christine -
    I found your blog on the BYW Forum. I was a BYW member for the very first class that Holly did. We are all waiting for her to do a Graduates class!


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