The galette des rois, traditionally served on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, is one last glorious excuse to indulge before a tightening of the waistband necessitates the usual January detox. The galette (also known as the king’s cake or Epiphany cake) is a delicious melange of puff pastry and frangipane almond cream. Those that have sampled its delights will know that it conceals a small charm or fève and whoever finds this is crowned king or queen for a day. Here are four of the best on either side of the Channel:
1. Lalos Paris
Acclaimed baker and pastry maestro Frédéric Lalos was the youngest chef to be awarded the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France Boulanger (MOF). His Galette L’Ardente is an Epiphany cake with a zesty twist made with hibiscus, mandarin and citrus, and his contemporary Fèves Coffret (€24.90) collection of five landmarks – the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Cœur, Montmartre, the Arc de Triomphe and Nôtre Dame – has charm aplenty. €21.90 for four to five servings, and €30.50 for six to seven servings.
22 Rue des Belles Feuilles, 75016 (lalosparis.com).
2. Dominique Saibron
Inspired by the Provence tradition of “the 13 desserts”, the artisan baker has crafted two recipes – 13 Desserts Bread and 13 Flavours Epiphany Cake, both incorporating 13 ingredients that create an explosion of flavours and aromas, the latter enveloped by crisp puff pastry. From €3.50 for two to three servings to €48 for 10 to 12 servings.
77 Avenue du Géneral Leclerc, 75014 (+331-4335 0107; dominique-saibron.com).
3. Maison Foucade
Chef Alexandre Marchon (formerly of Angelina and Fauchon) creates guilt-free French fancies at this fine pastry boutique. His haute pâtisserie is not only gluten and lactose free, but temptingly low in sugar, calories and fat. He has crafted two celebration cakes that can be devoured with an almost clear conscious: almond with traditional frangipane, or chestnut with chestnut cream. From €5 for an individual cake to €35 for six to eight servings.
17 Rue Duphot, 75001 (foucadeparis.com).
4. Pâtisserie Yann Couvreur
The rising star of pâtisserie and former head pastry chef of the Prince des Galles Hotel has two eponymous boutiques in Paris – the most recent to open its doors can be found in the buzzing Marais district. Couvreur is known for creating a seasonal selection of delights, and has crafted four galettes des rois to satisfy the most exigent of Epiphany cake connoisseurs: hazelnut frangipane, almond with roasted almond frangipane, coconut with 72 per cent chocolate, and Blanchard apple and pecan nut. From €24 for four to five servings to €38 for six to eight servings.
22 Bis Rue des Rosiers, 75004 (yanncouvreur.com).
5. Poilâne London
Famed for its sourdough, this French bakery has two London boutiques – in Belgravia and Chelsea – headed by its founding chef’s granddaughter Apollonia Poilâne. She says that la galette des rois, which she shares with friends and family throughout January, is best served with a good-quality cider. The bakery has two galette recipes to sample: the Galette Feuilletée, a simple flaky pastry tart to be accompanied with jam, and its signature Poilâne hazelnut galette – created in 1999 – that is filled with hazelnut cream. Its specially designed porcelain fèves depict the four varieties of oak tree that were recently planted in the grounds of its headquarters, situated in the French countryside. From £20.30 to £24.10 for four servings.
46 Elizabeth Street, SW1 (020-7808 4910; poilane.com).
6. Le Montmartre
“Don’t say it with flowers, celebrate with a galette,” says Nordine El-khouloudi of central London’s French bakery Le Montmartre, which includes the French embassy among its clientele. It prides itself on using only the best ingredients in its pâtisserie, including fresh almonds for its frangipane cream. In keeping with tradition, its porcelain fèves are made in France, and El-khouloudi suggests that a cold pressed organic apple juice or cider should be served with its galettes. From £19 for six servings to £25 for eight servings.
46 Fleet Street, EC4 (020-7936 4108; lemontmartre.co.uk).
7. Hélène Darroze at The Connaught
To celebrate Epiphany, guests lunching at the two-Michelin-star chef’s eponymous Mayfair restaurant will be served a slice of almond frangipane, apple and blackcurrant galette for dessert. The guest who finds the fève will be presented with an entire galette to take home, though Darroze’s galette des rois are also available to order. £25 for six servings.
Carlos Place, London W1 (020-3147 7200; the-connaught.co.uk).
8. Belle Epoque Pâtisserie
In the central kitchen of his original Newington Green bakery, French master chef Eric Rousseau crafts traditional galettes with ceramic fèves that are sold with handsome gold paper crowns (for crowning the “king of the day”). They are also available at his chic Islington premises and in Selfridges. From £21 for six servings to £35 for 10 to 12 servings.
262 Upper Street, N1 (020-8001 8295; belleepoque.co.uk) and Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street, W1 (0800-123 400; selfridges.com).