I moved to Montreal from the great Canadian Prairies via London, UK where I met my French speaking, Montréalais husband. I had briefly visited Montreal a few years back, but apparently that three day visit was enough to say I’d learn French and move there. It seemed appealing… in Canada, yet slightly European. Learning French seemed like fun, after all I’d learned Danish, German and some Spanish (all of which is now forgotten). Why not? I was sad to leave London (only to move back 4 years later..) but excited about my future.
Well, I am happy I moved. Some things, like learning French and all those horrible icky language politics are not very fun but I’ve learned much about this great city, met some fantastic people, and have been warmly welcomed by my husband’s family.
One of my first family events was being invited to celebrate La Fête des Rois. My husband could not tell me anything about this holiday except that there was cake with a hidden bean, and the person who got the bean was the King or Queen. And, it might be religious. Well, it is religious. It’s called Epiphany in English and is to celebrate the arrival of the three kings with gifts for baby Jesus. The cake is called in French a Galette des Rois (King’s Cake).
Most families buy their cake. In his book Le Montréal Gourmand, Phillipe Mollé recommends Montrealers pick up their cake at Patisserie de Nancy handily located right here in NDG on Monkland Avenue.
You can also make your own galette, and it isn’t that hard. I found a Raymond Blanc recipe on the BBC website. I’ve adapted it slightly, and added the bean, which he left out. Please use common sense and put something big enough in there that your guests won’t choke!
A recipe for a Galette des Rois (King's Cake) to celebrate La Fête des Rois (Epiphany).
For the pastry:
400g all-butter puff pastry
1 egg yolk for glazing
For the Almond Cream:
75g unsalted butter at room temp
75g icing sugar
75g ground almonds
1 egg yolk
1 dry bean
Roll out the puff pastry and cut out one base of 22cm, and another of 24cm. The base should be about ½cm thick. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour.
In a large bowl whisk all ingredients for the almond cream together until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until the pastry has chilled one hour.
Place the bottom base (the smaller circle) onto a plate. Place the cream mixture in the middle and smooth into an even circle leaving a 4cm gap at the edge. Place your bean somewhere in the almond cream.
Brush some of the beaten egg yolk on that 4cm gap and drape the pastry top onto the almond cream. Press down gently to get rid of air and seal the edges by pressing down.
Chill in fridge one hour.
Place a baking sheet into the oven and heat to 375F.
After it has chilled an hour, remove the galette and trim the edge with a sharp knife.
Crimp the edge if you want. Use a knife or fork.. up to you.
Brush galette with beaten egg yolk.
Gently score a spiral pattern with the blunt side of a knife in the top of the pastry making sure not to go all the way through.
Transfer to your hot baking sheet and bake 45 minutes.
Let rest 5 minutes before serving in slices.
I left more overhang than needed. If you get some of the almond paste when you seal the top and bottom together, it will puff out of the galette when baking. I thought it was better to be safe than sorry. I also bought pre-rolled puff pastry. This made things very easy, as I didn’t even have to bother rolling out the dough. However, there was a lot of waste. I got my dough from Akhavan in NDG.