It would be a pity to consider New Year’s Day the last of winter’s festivities, particularly since January 6 marks the Epiphany, a traditional Christian commemoration of Jesus’s baptism and the arrival of the three wise men, celebrated with (what else?) cake. In France, the confection of choice is the Galette des Rois, a flakey, golden puff pastry enrobing a large, soft puck of frangipane, an almond-butter mixture comparable in flavour to a tender, custard-y marzipan. Much like the Greek Vasilopita cake, the Mexican Rosca de Reyes, the savoury, quiche-like, Bulgarian banitsa, and the sugar-crusted, cinnamon-swirled Mardi Gras King Cake of New Orleans, somewhere within the layers of the Galette des Rois, its baker deposits a coin, bean, or, in some cases, small baby doll, representing Christ. Whoever discovers the hidden treasure in his or her piece is “king” for the day. Patisseres like Pierre Hermé and New York’s Épicerie Daniel Boulud strive to create exquisite versions each year; while a contender for Canada’s tastiest galette is Vancouver’s Faubourg Paris. “The puff pastry must be melting in your mouth and hide a generous amount of frangipane to fully appreciate the almond flavour of the galette,” explains Faubourg’s head pastry chef Ricardo Rosas, who bakes his galettes longer at low temperatures to achieve a tender crumb. And, being not-too-sweet, un-iced, and nut-filled, there is a case to be made that one may indulge in the cake without compromising too many New Year’s resolutions. Bon appétit.
January 5, 2016