Monday, 16 January 2012

King Cake/Galette des Rois

One of our favourite French food traditions that we all look forward to eagerly is the arrival in January [and ONLY January] of the 'Galette des Rois'. A tradition dating back centuries the 'galette des Rois' is shared with family and friends in a special dinner to celebrate Epithany.
The 'Galette des Rois' is a flat cake made of puff pastry and filled with frangipane [made with ground almonds, butter, eggs and sugar] and it is delicious served fact the boulangeries provide a special brown paper bag that the galette is heated in which is especially designed to stop it drying out.
'Le Feve'
Hidden in the folds of frangipane is one special ceramic trinket or 'le feve' and the person that is lucky enough to find this in their piece is the 'King for the Day' and gets to wear the crown that is provided with each and every galette purchased. Carla was the winner at our table yesterday when our friends came for dinner to celebrate with us! After a huge Sunday Lunch of salmon fishcakes and roast lamb with broad bean mash that Michael prepared we followed the cheese and salad course with the galette!
 As tradition demands the youngest child...Liliana...sit under the table and call out the name of everyone in the party in a random order to decide who gets which piece of galette. This is to guarantee that everyone has a fair shot at getting the piece containing 'le feve'. The 'feve' was a ceramic cap...the same as those found on the top of a champagne bottle...these wee trinkets are collectable and vary in degrees of finesse mainly depending upon the price paid!! The trinket from a supermarket galette will often be a gawdy symbol of a current movie whereas the fancy boulangerie will have a very stylish 'feve' that is often very beautiful and collectable...this is mainly a Northern French tradition and is very popular in Champagne.
 If you are not able to get a galette from your local bakery then here is a link to a recipe with excellent instructions and a bit more history from one of my favourite food blogs and cookbook 'Chocolate and Zucchini' by Clotilde Dusoulier.

Le gâteau des Rois, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1774 (Musée Fabre)

Further Information for those interested!
" Tradition holds that the cake is “to draw the kings” to the Epiphany. A figurine, la fève, which can represent anything from a car to a cartoon character, is hidden in the cake and the person who finds the trinket in their slice becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake. Originally, la fève was literally a broad bean (fève), but it was replaced in 1870 by a variety of figurines out of porcelain or—more recently—plastic. These figurines have become popular collectibles and can often be bought separately. Individual bakeries may offer a specialized line of fèves depicting diverse themes from great works of art to classic movie stars and popular cartoon characters. The cakes are usually sold in special bags, some of which can be used to heat the cake in a microwave without ruining the crispness of the cake. A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the "king" who finds the fève in their piece of cake. To ensure a random distribution of the cake shares, it is traditional for the youngest person to place themselves under the table and name the recipient of the share which is indicated by the person in charge of the service." as quoted from Wikipedia
It was a fun lunch that lasted till our guests departed around 7.30pm! A typical French style lunch that lasts all day and into the need for an evening meal...

On the wine front we started with a magnum of Olivier and Annemarie's own champagne 'L.Huot Fils'  we then, forever the Ambassador's for our home country, served some NZ wines for our French guests to sample...the classic Malborough Cloudy Bay Savignon Blanc went down a treat and there was an extended rave for the Central Otago Pinot Noir 'Grasshopper Rock'....a rare wine internationally but it is available direct from the vineyard or from 'Naked Wines' in the U.K....

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