King Cake

King Cake

The “King’s Cake” or “La galette des Rois” (the wafer of the Kings) is traditionally eaten to celebrate the Epiphany (January 6th). The cake has layers of flaky puff pastry with a center of frangipane.

Tradition holds that the cake is “to draw the Kings” to the Epiphany. A figurine, la fève, is hidden in the cake and the person who finds the trinket in their slice becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake.

Originally, la fève was literally a broad bean (fève), but it was replaced in 1870 by a variety of figurines out of porcelain or, more recently, plastic. The cakes are sold in special bags, which can be used to heat the cake in the microwave without ruining the crispness of the cake.

A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the “king” who finds the fève in their piece of cake. Formerly, one divided the cake in as many shares as guests, plus one. The latter, called “the share of God,” “share of the Virgin Mary,” or “share of the poor” was intended for the first poor person to arrive at the home.

The French President is not allowed to “draw the kings” on Epiphany because of the etiquette rules.

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