King Cake: Galette Des Rois

I told my foodie friend, Ellen, that I made a King cake. The conversation went like this:

Me: I made a King Cake the other day.
Ellen: I LOOOOVE King Cakes.
Me: It wasn’t bad.
Ellen: Oh, all that fluffy pastry and almond filling.
Me: Huh?
Ellen: It’s so light and airy.
Me: Huh? The one I made is like a big doughnut.
Ellen: Huh? No puff pastry?
Me: No.
Ellen: Hmm.

Turns out the King cake Ellen was enamored with was the French version or, Galette Des Rois. The one I made was the brioche-style one that is most often found in New Orleans. Of course, I had to try the French version.

Traditionally a fava bean is hidden in the cake and the person who gets the piece with the bean is crowned king for the day. Modern day King Cakes in New Orleans work like this: You make or buy a king cake and hide a tiny plastic baby Jesus figurine in it. The person who gets the piece embedded with the tiny plastic baby has to supply the next King Cake. Apparently it is a ploy to keep the party going from Twelfth night through Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Not that New Orleans needs another incentive for revelry.

1/2 cup ground almonds
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 eggs
1/4 cup of sugar (substitute rapadura or palm sugar)
1 packages (2 sheets) store bought puff pastry sheets, if frozen thaw in refrigerator
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Grind almonds in food processor.
  • In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter.
  • Add two eggs, almond extract and ground almonds and mix well. This is your Frangipane.
  • Unfold thawed puff pastries and using a large plate or pie pan as a template cut pastry sheets into two circles.
  • Lay one circle on the prepared baking sheet and spread the Frangipane in the middle, leaving an inch border all the way around.
  • Place a dried fava bean or ceramic figure in the Frangipane. If you are using a plastic figurine, you’ll have to wait until the cake is cooked before you hide it.
  • Whip an egg and brush around the border of the dough, be sure it doesn’t drip down the edges, this will prevent the pastry from rising.
  • Place the other dough circle on top and press the edges to seal.
  • Brush top with egg. Slice a few (or many) lines in the top dough sheet.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes in an oven preheated to 375ºF
  • Dust with powdered sugar

Cool and serve.

Happy Mardi Gras!

2 Responses to “King Cake: Galette Des Rois”

  1. sydney says:

    Funny you should mention this– I didn’t know about King Cakes until yesterday when I found out that Emily has requested one for her birthday celebration on Saturday. It’s been ordered from a Creole restaurant. Instead of a fava bean, it has a miniature 1″ baby doll inside. Weird.

  2. rebecca says:

    thanks for the french version – with a husband from new orleans i only was familiar with their version! (and ate far too many this mardi gras)

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