Little French Girl

Tonight’s Twelfth Night!

It traditionally marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas, and at the same time it kicks off the Carnival season which lasts until Mardi Gras. The evening consists of revels, drinks, and pastries, among which the King’s Cake, eaten in England and France, may be the most popular today. Originally baked with a bean inside, this cake is made of a puff pastry and filled with an egg-butter-almond batter (though other variations exist). During the night, whoever gets the bean becomes the king of the revels until the strike of midnight.

Nowadays in France the Kings’ Cake (Galette des Rois) is often eaten on the day of Epiphany (it is named after Melchior, Gaspard and Balthazar). At home the youngest child of the house hides under the table and an adult cuts the cake. From under the table, the child will name who gets which slice to ensure the king is selected at random. Once someone finds the bean, they become King, and wears a paper crown which the baker has given with the galette.

Most bakeries in France are filled with galettes des rois during Epiphany week, and the original bean has now been replaced by a figurine, more often than not made of china. Fancier shops team up occasionally with reknown designers to create special editions for the occasion (e.g. Lenotre/Sonia Rykiel with a series of faces named and designed after the seven deadly sins in 1994). Being less fancy this year, I bought mine from the local grocery store so I wonder what I’ll be getting…

Finally, if you’re in Brooklyn and want to try a galette des rois, Provence en Boite (Smith Street in Carrol Gardens) makes a nice one!


et cetera