J’aime la Galette . . .
We French love any occasion that gives us a reason for a convivial gathering centred around food. Epiphany is just such an occasion, bringing together young and old, neighbours, colleagues or cousins, on Epiphany itself (6th January) or any other nearby date! And the centrepiece of this much-loved feast day? The Galette des Rois of course, an unmissable speciality to share and enjoy. Whether it’s made with buttery flaky pastry or brioche, with rich almond cream or apple compote, it always has that magic ingredient everyone hopes for – a pretty charm (the ‘fève’) hidden away in its heart.
And the nursery rhyme? Simply called ‘J’aime la Galette’, this annoyingly catchy little song came to prominence in the 1820s, promoted by the pâtisserie La Galette du Gymnase in Paris, which was attached to the theatre of the same name. Their child star, Léontine Fay, apparently made the song famous. It couldn’t be any simpler:
J’aime la galette (I love the galette)
Savez-vous comment? (Do you know how?)
Quand elle est bien faite (When it’s well made)
Avec du beurre dedans. (With butter inside)
Tra la la la la la la lère
Tra la la la la la la la.
If you want to drive yourself mad with this ear-worm, you can find plenty of renditions on YouTube. But we digress. We would just like to assure you that at PAUL, like everyone, we do love a galette when it’s well made!
Yes, I love the frangipane galette – but it’s not the only version I love!
The undisputed queen of Epiphany, taking the lion’s share in January, is the frangipane galette. Crisp and golden, filled with an incredibly smooth pure almond cream, almost everyone agrees that this is the ultimate galette. Almost everyone? Well yes, this is France after all, a country that’s incredibly proud of its 365 (minimum) cheeses and as many different breads, so it’s completely normal that there would be some regional Epiphany variations clamouring to be heard. As good as our almond cream version? Let’s see . . .
In the north of France and also in Normandy and the Grand Est, it’s the galette aux pommes (apple galette) that often wears the crown. It’s made with a crunchy puff pastry, pure butter of course, generously garnished with gently caramelised stewed apple. It’s meltingly delicious, and goes very well indeed with a good local cider (in moderation!). Apples all round . . .
Further south, the Frangipane Galette’s challengers are made with brioche! They can be made with or without candied fruit, with candied fruit inside or on top or both, with sugar nuggets, sometimes flavoured with orange blossom, sometimes not. From Provence to Bordeaux, every region, sometimes even every town, breaks out in a positive orgy of creativity at Epiphany. There’s the Couronne des Rois (Crown of the Kings - more often found in the South West), the Gâteau des Rois (Kings’ Cake – more often found in the South East), the Royaume (Kingdom) or even the Brioche des Rois (the Kings’ Brioche). These soft brioche specialities often share the limelight with the puff pastry galettes on family tables.
So what do all these deliciously different recipes have in common? It’s the traditional fève, a dried bean that used to be slipped into the heart of the Epiphany pastry, but which has long since given way to adorable little ceramic charm, colourfully decorated, which delight children and collectors of all ages.
J’aime la Galette – with the lovely charms inside!
Playful, cute and creative, the galette charms are a real French passion, so much so that 4 in 10 French people admit to collecting them. It’s also a real passion for us here at PAUL. Year after year we offer original themes for the charms and a vintage box to expand your collection. Since we all love galettes and charms, this year we’ve decided to take this to its logical conclusion, and we’ve created galette charms! Our Epiphany galettes and gâteaux will have charms hidden in them in the form of - Epiphany galettes and gâteaux. The charms feature slices of apple galette or frangipane galette, presented on a pretty plate, or a crown with candied fruits and sugar, so there will be galettes in our galettes. Because when you love something, who’s counting?
For collectors, we offer vibrant colour in the form of a heart-shaped case with the tea-party charms displayed on a cushion of passionate red. Just a little pleasure to give to yourself, or to all those who love the galette truly, madly – deeply!