Traditional, daring, original … Each year, the Galette des Rois (literally ‘cake of the kings’) an Epiphany cake is reinvented by Parisian bakers and pâtissiers. While the classic version consists of two layers of puff pastry generously filled with an almond frangipane cream, it also comes in an infinite variety of flavours, types of pastry, and fillings. So, what do they all have in common? The fève (a bean or sometimes a porcelain figurine) of course! Here is a snapshot of some of the delectable creations that will be tempting Parisians in 2021.
Bakeries Stohrer, Hugo & Victor, the Boulanger de la Tour, Benoît Castel and Thierry Marx have opted for a frangipane Epiphany cake in which technique and the pure simplicity of taste are perfectly mastered. Pastry maker Philippe Conticini has chosen a traditional recipe but with a difference: he celebrates women with a ‘Galette des Reines’ (a Queens’ Epiphany cake rather than a Kings’) designed in partnership with the media Les Éclaireuses and topped with the profile of a woman in powdered sugar and a fève from La Maison Degrenne.
As for Pierre Hermé, he has created a Brioche des Rois with chocolate, praline and hazelnuts and 3 other different Epiphany cakes: traditional ‘’Infiniment Amande’, Ispahan, and a third with orange blossom, honey and lemon flavours. Aveyron-born chef Cyril Lignac presents a brioche with orange blossom water, topped with sugar, pistachios, and caramelized hazelnuts.
Chocolate is one of the ingredients in Ladurée’s Epiphany cake with a pronounced chocolate hazelnut flavour. Try ‘The Belle-Hélène’ with pear, and pecan nuts and chocolate from the Maison du Chocolat,Jean-Paul Hévin, or at Maison Lenôtre which offers two additional versions, one traditional and another with candied citrus fruits.
Tea fans will be delighted by the two Epiphany cakes from tea house Mariage Frères, one with Blue Tea Majestic Lime & Ginger and the other with White Tea & Rose.
Oriental addresses Babka Zana, Maison Aleph and Maison Gazelle mix genres with a Babka of Kings with honey, Epiphany cakes with flavours from the Levant or in the style of gazelle horns. For more surprises, you will also want to check out the iced versions from Fabrique Givrée or La Glacerie.
However, the most original is perhaps the charcuterie Epiphany cake from up-market Maison Vérot which offers a savoury version with pork and foie gras ...
This year, at his Opéra patisserie, the patisserie chef Cédric Grolet has concocted an ‘Almond Flower’, an almond puff pastry brioche generously filled with roasted almond frangipane and praline; he has adapted this brioche for the palace hotel Le Meurice by using chestnuts and filling the brioche with chestnut cream and candied chestnuts and topping it with crispy pieces.
The other palaces have their own versions. The Shangri-La presents a vanilla Epiphany cake, crafted by its head patisserie chef Maxence Barbot. At his Petit Comptoir du Ritz, François Perret offers two versions, one with inverted puff pastry and almond macaronade and one in a ‘bar’ format to take away before a stroll along Rue de Rivoli. As for the Fouquet's, la galette des rois has a delicious taste of nougat with its almond and honey cream and candied oranges on top.
At the George V, Michael Bartocetti has had fun merging brioche and galette for an airy result that should regale all sweet-toothed foodies whilst Nicolas Guercio at the Lutetia presents his ‘111 nuances of hazelnuts’. Matthieu Carlin at the Hôtel de Crillon offers a traditional Epiphany cake containing an unexpected surprise: in two of them, the traditional fève has been replaced by a gold ring or a ring that entitles you to an overnight stay in the famous palace …
Fruits also appear in the creations of top chefs. Guy Martin, for example, at the Grand Véfour adds a zingy freshness to his frangipane with passion fruit and pineapple and Yann Brys, Meilleur Ouvrier de France and head pâtissier at Hôtels Evok, opts for the tart sweetness of raspberry jam in his Epiphany cake for the Brach.
One thing is sure, there is something for all tastes and all budgets!