The French tradition of serving this frangipane-filled tart on the Twelfth Day of Christmas or Epiphany Day has biblical origins and is a reference to the magi, or three kings. A fève (“bean”) is traditionally baked in the galette, which is sliced with a piece for every person present plus an extra slice called part du Bon Dieu (God’s piece) or part de la Vierge (the Virgin Mary’s piece).
Over time the fève was replaced with a tiny porcelain trinket or figurine. The person who receives the piece containing the fève is “crowned” king or queen for the day. The remaining piece, then called part du pauvre (poor man’s piece), was traditionally shared with a needy person.
If you’re now in France, be sure to look in the windows of bake shops displaying these cakes. Bakeries sell them complete with paper crown and fève. Most sell the simple, traditional style of cake, but there are all kinds of contemporary, gourmet twists with different ingredients. Check out some of the Paris pâtisseries like Dalloyau, Gérard Mulot, Hugo & Victor, Christophe Michalak, Pierre Hermé, Yann Couvreur, and Sebastien Gaudard, to name just a few.
Fèves are collected and sometimes you’ll see them for sale at French markets.
Bake a galette to see who will become king or queen for the day at your house and don’t forget to make a foil crown to place atop the cake before presenting it.
Puff Pastry Tart Filled with Almond Cream
- 1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup almond paste
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 dried bean (lima or kidney beans work well)
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Butter a large baking sheet (not dark metal).
- In a food processor, purée the almond paste, sugar, butter and pinch of salt until smooth.
- Add 1 egg, vanilla and almond extract, then purée until incorporated.
- Add the flour and pulse to mix it in.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out one sheet of the puff pastry into an 11.5 inch square.
- Invert an 11 inch pie plate onto the square and cut out a round shape by tracing the outline of the pie plate with the tip of a paring knife.
- Brush the flour from both sides of the round and place it on the buttered baking sheet. Put in the refrigerator to chill.
- Repeat the procedure with the second square of puff pastry, but leave it on the floured work surface.
- Beat the remaining egg and brush some of it on top of the second round. Score decoratively all over the top using the tip of a paring knife and make several small slits all the way through the pastry to create steam vents.
- Remove the first sheet from the refrigerator and brush some of the egg in a 1 inch border around the edge. Mound the almond cream in the center, spreading slightly.
- Bury the bean in the almond cream. Place the scored round on top and press the edges together.
- Bake the galette in the lower third of the oven for 13 to 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from oven and dust with the confectioner’s sugar.
- Place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and return galette to cook for an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until the edge is a deep golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.
Serve the galette warm. Make sure everybody knows about the bean before eating!