La galette des rois is the King’s cake that the French make to celebrate the Epiphany, in January of each year. This cake is not very known in England yet, but you can now find it in most of the French bakeries in London.
This King’s cake is made from puff pastry filled with the « frangipane ». This frangipane is mainly a mix of eggs, butter, and grounded almonds.
Every year, all families in France are sharing this Galette des rois. There is a little figurine hidden in the cake. The lucky one who finds this figurine becomes the King for the day.
He’s allowed to wear a paper crown, which is always supplied with the Galette when you buy it in a French Bakery. The king of the day can actually ask whatever he wants to the other members of his family.
In most of the companies in France, managers tend to buy a few galettes des rois, and share them with their collegues. It creates a nice atmosphere at work and can be seen as a team building activity.
The one who wears the crown (because he or she found the figurine) has to choose his Queen (or King) between all the other collegues. This choice usually creates some funny rumourous which spreads out for quite a few days.
That habit is now arriving to in London through all the large French banks settled in the City. They usually order hundreds of these Galettes des rois, and create an event around it.
That’s how Brits usually start to participate to their first Galette des rois party. To understand where this habit is coming from, you need to go back to Saturnalia, a Roman holiday in the first century BC. At that time, the Kings were sharing a cake with their slaves in order maintain a good relationship. There was a bean in the cake, and the slave who finds it, was allowed to ask whatever he wants to his king.
This tradition has changed a lot across centuries.
You can still find paints from the 16th Century showing diners with a family sharing a Galette des rois. Just after the French revolution, this cake has been renamed Liberty Cake instead of King’s cake for a few years. Since then, the French president always celebrate the Epiphany with this Galette des rois, but the cake that the president cuts has no figurine inside, so there is no chance for him to wear a paper crown. This country is very careful with symbols like these!
About the Author: Le Montmartre
The author is writing articles about food services, like Corporate catering london.