It’s that Season again! The Galette des Rois is back!
Here is an oldie, but goodie blog on just how to enjoy the Season of the Galette in Paris!
French children are accustomed to discovery small porcelain effigies of their favorite cartoon or comic book characters in their King’s Cake, but this wasn’t always the case. Traditionally the prize was a dried bean- which is why we say that the winner has found the fève- the French word for bean. Modern-day fèves are a little more fun- reflecting favorite characters in pop culture or other relevant figures of note. Limited edition series of these figurines are introduced every year and quickly become collectibles. Vintage fèves, however, have their own special charm- often depicting other kinds of celebrities- the baker, mailman, butcher, and other neighbors of note. These small parts of bygone French days make charming souvenirs and are fun to include in your own homemade Galette des Rois.
Paris flea markets are a great place to find fèves. Here are a few markets to visit in order to get your collection started:
Marché aux Puces St Ouen
Located in the northern Paris suburb of St Ouen, this is one of the largest flea markets near the city and deserves a day trip. The market is divided into several smaller markets, each with its own theme- furniture, clothing, kitchen accessories, etc. Marché Serpette (110 rue des Rosiers) has a large selection of cookware and is a good bet for finding vintage fèves and other treasures.
Marché aux Puces Port de Vanves
Another Paris region flea market is a bit more hodgepodge than the market at St Ouen- but equally intriguing. Here you’ll have to sort through a jumble of hidden treasures and oddities to find your pleasure, but given the choice and variety, it’s hard to believe there isn’t something for everyone at this eclectic marché aux Puces.
While much of Marché d’Aligre is dedicated to food- from the outdoor morning food market to the neighboring covered specialty food market- there is also an appeal for those looking for a good deal on French antiques. The 12th arrondissement’s Place d’Aligre also welcomes vendors of used books, records, and cooking utensils. Bargaining is welcome here, and if you’re savvy you can probably get a nice collection of fèves, or a new-to-you Georges Brassens record, for pocket change.
Brocantes / Vide Greniers
These events, which are basically the Paris version of garage sales, happen throughout the city- usually during the warmer spring and summer months. While in town, keep an eye out for signs that announce these weekend sales, where everything from vintage clothing to tea sets is on display in popup shops on the city’s sidewalks.
Try your hand at making your own galette with your newly acquired fève, with this recipe from chef Eric of Cook’n with Class
250 gr. / 8.8 oz. almond paste
150 gr. / 5.3 oz. sugar [to be added only if the almond paste is unsweetened]
250 gr. / 8.8 oz. 1/2 lb room temperature butter
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
2.5 oz (75g) all-purpose/plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
You will also need 2 discs of puff pastry (fresh or frozen)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1oz of whipping cream (egg wash)
1. Combine almond paste [sugar, if needed] and 1 egg in a mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth.
2. Beat in butter and vanilla until smooth. Scrape bowl.
3. Add remaining eggs, one at the time, keep beating.
4. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the mixer at low speed and work just until absorbed.
Put cream in a pastry bag and refrigerate if too soft or runny.
On one disc of puff pastry, pipe a spiral of filling leaving about 2 cm border. Brush the border with the egg wash and place the second disc of puff pastry on top. With a fork seal the edges gently. Glaze the top of the cake with egg wash, cut a few vents and then with the tip of a paring knife draw some decorations (try not to cut through the dough).
Bake at 200ºC/420ºF until fully puffed and golden brown. Serve warm or cold, never hot.
For an Epiphany from the south of France, why not try the Brioche des Rois as well.