In France, on Epiphany, the tradition on January 6 is to share a cake called a “Galette des Rois” (Cake of Kings). Epiphany is when the the Magi (three wise men or three kings) visited the baby Jesus. If you are travelling in France in December and early January, leading up to this date, you will see numerous cakes in boulangerie window displays.
Tradition Of Galette Des Rois
The centuries-old practice was to place a fève (bean) in the centre of the cake. A child would hide under the table and tell the server who should get the next slice. Whoever found the hidden fève could choose who would become king (or queen) for the day.
Today, the cake is part puff pastry filled with frangipane (almond filling comprised of ground almonds, eggs, butter, and sugar) and in the late 1800s, the fève was replaced by a ceramic or plastic figurine or charm. You can buy it by the slice or buy the whole thing! Some patisseries also sell “mini” galettes for those who don’t want to overindulge.
Every year Elysée Palace makes a gigantic Galette des Rois for the President of the Republic. It looks like it is 4 feet in diameter and supposedly it is made to serve 150 people. There is NOT, however, a fève or charm inside. It wouldn’t really be right to have a “King” or “Queen” in the Elysée Palace. [Remember the French Revolution?]