The most common cake eaten at Epiphany is the Galette des Rois, an almond-filled puff
pastry confection. In Provence, the preferred version is the yeast-based Gateau des Rois (a
Cake for the Three Kings) and a true work of art in its way. This is the one for you if you
adore crystallised fruit, and is even better if you make these yourself. Tradition has it that this
cake is eaten at Epiphany so you have till the 6 January to create your own interpretation.
All the ingredients except the yeast should be brought to room temperature overnight.
- The previous day, grate the crystallised fruit and put in a large bowl. Add the sugar
and orange-flower water, mix well and reserve.
- The next day, blend the yeast into the lukewarm water in a cup. Beat the eggs in a
Put the flour, yeast and water, grated fruit mixture, the eggs and the softened butter in
the bowl of your mixer and beat with a dough hook for 15 mins at a slow speed (0.8).
- Cover with a sheet of baking parchment, and then a teatowel and set to rise in a warm
place (25°) away from draughts for approx 1½ hours until doubled in volume. If you
don’t have a suitable place, you can place it in a very slow oven.
- Shaping the cakes: Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured worktop, knock back
gently and divide into 4 equal pieces. Taking the first piece shape it into a ball and
flatten with your hand. Repeat the process with the three other pieces. Take the first
piece and roll out with a rolling pin to a circle 15cm in diameter. Mark the centre and
cut out a hole with a pastry cutter or small glass. You can use these bits of dough to
- Place the cake on a large baking tray lined with baking parchment and push into it a lucky charm (a bean in this case). Cover with another sheet of paper to prevent the dough drying out. Repeat the same process with the three remaining pieces of dough. Leave to rise at 25° for between 50 – 60mins till doubled in size; any longer and the dough will start to collapse.
- After 35mins place the drip tray in the centre of the oven, and light it at 180°. Beat an
egg in a small basin.
When the cakes are ready, take two of them, brush evenly with the egg wash and
decorate with the brioche sugar to you own design.
- Slide them with their paper onto the oven tray and bake for 20 mins.
Meanwhile, keep the two remaining cakes at 20° to prevent them continuing to rise.
They will go into the oven 20 mins later.
- Decorate with whole crystallised fruit, glace cherries, crystallised melon slices,
angelica stalks …….
These cakes can be easily deep frozen – take care to wrap them in clingfilm to stop them