I don’t often talk about my native land of Belgium on here anymore (at least not as much as I used to when I was in the US) but this little kingdom and its lovely traditions holds a very special place in my heart. This is one of them: the galette des rois (or king cake). It is a cake made with puff pastry and frangipane and is consumed on January 6th to celebrate the Epiphany.
The Epiphany or Three Kings Day is a Christian feast day which celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi. It is celebrated on the 12th day of Christmas and marks the end of the festive season. It is a holiday celebrated in Christian countries worldwide, however as most holidays go, the traditions of this day vary from place to place. This type of cake, the ‘galette des rois’, is consumed mostly in northern France and the Benelux. What is unique about this cake, is that it has a ‘fève’ hidden inside it (a porcelain figure, called a bean in English). The person who gets the bean, becomes the king or queen of that day and gets to wear a gold paper crown that comes with the cake.
The Epiphany was one of my favourite traditions growing up and I still remember the excitement when the first galettes started to appear in bakeries. I used to beg my mother to buy one before the 6th as I just loved the taste of it and couldn’t content myself with eating it just once a year. What was more exciting though, was the hidden bean. Every year I wanted to be the queen so badly, that I actually cheated some times (uh oh). See, part of the tradition is that the youngest child (and therefore the most innocent) has to cut the cake. As I was always the youngest, that was always my job. Sometimes I would accidentally cut on the bean, making me perfectly aware of where it was and then asking for that piece (I know, not very christian of me). Anyways, learning how to make a vegan version of this has been so nice and it’s actually a very simple recipe (once you find all the ingredients that is, some of them I had to look for in organic/vegan stores).
– 2 rolls of vegan puff pastry
– 250g of almond meal
– 150g of sugar
– 1 small bag of vanilla sugar
– 3 tablespoons of vegan butter
– 40g of arrowroot
– 20 cl of almond butter
– 1 teaspoon of concentrated bitter almond flavour
– 1 bean (I just used an almond)
+ a little bit of vegan butter or cream for the for the ‘golden look’
- preheat oven at 200° C.
- In a large bowl, mix the sugar, vanilla, and butter.
- Add the arrow root and mix again.
- Add the almond butter and the bitter almond flavour and mix again.
- Finally, add the almond meal and mix everything until it becomes a homogenous mixture. (note: 250g is from the original recipe. I used only about 150g, but my frangipane ended up being a bit dense, so if you want it to be lighter I’d recommend more almond meal, so just go with your guts with this one. If you feel like there’s too much powder, you can always add 2 teaspoons of almond milk).
- Unroll one of the puff pastries on a baking tray, makes some holes in it with a fork, and spread an even layer of frangipane (about 2cm) on it. Leave a bit of space at the edge.
- Hide the bean (or almond) somewhere in the frangipane.
- Unroll the second puff pastry on top of the first one and the mixture. Roll the edges of both pastries until they reach the frangipane in order to make a crust.
- Make some holes in the puff pastry and draw some lines (decorate it however you want).
- Spread some butter or milk on top and put it in the oven.
- Cook it for about 30min, depending on how golden you want it to be. Remember to check from time to time.
Voila! There you have it! Now you can turn this delicious tradition into a vegan version filled with just as much almond goodness as the original. Both my non-vegan parents absolutely adored it and we devoured it way too fast. Hope you like it as much as we did!
PS: I got the bean this year, and I promise I didn’t cheat.