King of cake day

Galette de rois - French epiphany pie

In France, the 6th of January, Epiphany, is celebrated with a sweet treat. La galette des Rois (wafer of the kings) is a puff pastry pie-like thing with a layer of almond paste, known as frangipane, sandwiched between the pastry. It’s a special cake because it contains a porcelain figurine (now usually something plastic), which entitles the finder to be king of the household for the day.

Some history of the cake can be found here, but I’d prefer to talk about the here and now. Pictured is my very own wafer of the kings, which I bought at the local bakery yesterday. As you can see, it’s more like a pie than a wafer, and you get more than just a baked good when you buy this beast. Apart from the hidden figurine, the cake also comes with a cardboard crown for whoever finds the figurine to wear for the day. It also comes in this cool paper bag which allows the pie to be lightly heated in a microwave without losing its crispness.

My bag contained logos from the Savoyarde region. You can see there’s the Savoie coat of arms in the centre, a skier on the left, a local flower, a chalet (hidden by the galette), a bottle of booze with the same coat of arms, and just out of the the shot is a kid with a ladder because the Savoyardes used to be very poor and they would send their kids away to work as chimney sweeps in big cities. I don’t know why the yellow thing at the top has elephants sticking out of it. This must be a Savoyarde memento I’ve yet to familiarise myself with.

The great thing about this pie is that you don’t have to carry it flat. It’s so dense, it’s like a giant biscuit, and I guess that’s why the bag works so well. I carried this one to a friend’s place last night and we cut it up and ate all but two pieces. The hidden figurine is still hidden (hopefully). Maybe it’s an elephant sticking out of a yellow thing. Can anyone tell me what that’s about? None of the French people here seem to know.

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I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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8 comments on “King of cake day
  1. Liz says:


    I think the thing with the elephants represents the Fontaine des Éléphants in Chambéry. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia site for the city, which has a photo of the fountain and a brief explanation of why it’s there:

  2. Wendy says:

    Ah, Liz, that’s clearly it. Thanks for that. I might pop over to Chambéry to check it out in spring.

  3. Matt Herrett says:

    That. Looks. Awesome.

    Hungry now…

  4. Jane Bagwell says:

    We have a different one here in Provence… à brioche ring with lots of confit fruits on top and inside…. liberally covered in sugar or course!

    • Wendy says:

      Of course! That sounds very tasty, though. Does it include the ‘feve’ inside? I wonder how many people break their teeth on the feves every year.

  5. Sara says:

    Thank you so much for this article! After reading it I rushed over to the French bakery in Madison, and they actually make them! I did a pre-order for the soonest day possible, which has wonderfully worked out to be my fiance’s birthday! You made the stars align Wendy! 😀

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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