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One French word: galette, a French recipe: galette des rois

Galette means a round flat pastry (pronounced ga (as in gas, without the s) let (as in house to let), ga-let) and is a feminine noun (la galette = the round flat pastry, une galette = a round flat pastry). In fact it can mean a lot of round flat things that one eats, such as galette des rois (= a pie eaten on 6th January, the day of the 3 Kings, Epiphany), a galette complète (which is almost the national dish of Brittany, a large buckwheat pancake topped with bacon, eggs, cheese, and a host of other things, making a complete meal), a galette de pomme de terre (a potato pancake made of mashed potato or shredded potato fried up crispy). It can also mean those funny flat spare tyres they sometimes put in cars nowadays.

I am going to give you the recipe for Galette des Rois. You may even have time to assemble the ingredients to make one for January 6th.

The recipe is for 6 people. You first need to make frangipane (feminine noun, la frangipane), which is a sort of thick creamy paste made of ground almonds. We can cheat here in France, there is a really excellent packet version!


  1. Heat your oven to 200°C.
  2. Make the frangipane. You will need 150gr ground almonds, 2 pkts vanilla sugar, 2 egg yolks, 1/10 litre milk, 70gr sugar, 1 tbs fruit alcohol (eau de vie= literally water of life) (pear, raspberry) or rum, 75gr melted butter.
  3. Off the heat, put the almonds, vanilla sugar, sugar, egg, and milk into a non stick saucepan, and stir together. Over a low heat, stirring constantly, whip until the mixture thickens slightly. Be careful not to scramble the egg. Off the heat again, add the melted butter and the alcohol. Leave to cool.
  4. For the tart, you will need two rounds of puff pastry (roughly 26cm diameter).  Buy the best quality puff pastry you can, it makes all the difference. You cannot use anything but puff pastry for this recipe. On a greaseproof paper covered baking sheet, place one round of puff pastry. Spread the frangipane mixture over, leaving about 2 to 3cm all around for sealing.
  5. Now this bit is important. Find a fève (= bean). If you don’t have a French porcelain fève, use a butter bean, haricot bean, red bean, as long as it is raw and hard. Slip this fève into the frangipane at the very edge of the tart. The custom is that the person that finds the fève is king or queen for the day (and in France they have a crown!), and they choose a person of the opposite sex to be their queen or king. So that there is no cheating as to who gets the fève, the youngest member of the family goes under the dining table, and as portions are cut, shouts out the name of the person to be served.
  6. To go on with the recipe: Place the second round of puff pastry over the top, seal with milk or egg, pressing down well, glaze the top with egg or milk and use the tip of the knife to trace patterns if you wish.
  7. Pop it in the oven for 40 minutes. Serve warm.  It warms up very well, but NOT in the microwave as this will make the puff pastry go soggy!

Bon appétit.

PS: why not keep a little book, or a web note pad, with the vocabulary you are learning. Copying words out helps to memorize them.

PPS. The photo is at the bottom, I’m sorry. I just lost half of my text when uploading a photo in the middle… very annoying.

Galettes des Rois


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

4 responses »

  1. Yummy! Looks absolutely amazing! Thanks for the recipe and word of the day. :)

  2. What a nice project! I will follow you with interest and pleasure, as my husband and I bought a house, which is under renovation now, in the Dordogne region and we plan to move to live there in a few years.

    • How lovely Roberta, it’s such a beautiful region, let me know when you are installed! Are you not the Italian Roberta who commented on a lentil salad on another blog yesterday? Funny how paths cross and re-cross!

  3. Pingback: La Galette des rois | French A L.A Carte Blog!

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