Food

French Pastry Epiphany: Galette des Rois

OPB | Jan. 11, 2012 4 p.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 12:59 a.m.

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For Chef Dominique Geulin, baking pastries is a family tradition.

Geulin literally grew up in the kitchen, hailing from a family of bakers in his hometown of Normandy, France. After relocating to Portland in the early ‘80s, Geulin opened St. Honoré Boulangerie on Thurman Street in 2003, followed by a second location in Lake Oswego in 2008. Since then the bakery has become a favorite spot for many Portlanders to get their Galette des Rois.

Slideshow

Click on “View Gallery” in the right sidebar to see Geulin make the Galette des Rois.

This traditional French pastry, which means “Cake for the Kings” or “King’s Cake,” is featured in celebrations of Epiphany, a Christian holiday that falls on January 6th when the three kings arrived to honor the baby Jesus. The French adopted the tradition of baking the Galette des Rois and sharing it among family and friends during the mid-18th century.

“All month long, there are celebrations around France. It is a very convivial time together. We celebrate with family, friends, at school, at the office,” says Geulin. 

The King Cake found during Mardi Gras is a Creole first cousin of the Galette des Rois.

Megan Morris, via Flickr

To make his Galette des Rois, Geulin uses locally produced, sustainable ingredients like Shepherd’s Grain flour. He also uses locally produced butter.  

Finding la fève inside your portion of the cake symbolizes good fortune during the coming year.

Ifanyi Bell / OPB

The King Cake found its way into American traditions through the blending of French Colonial and African Slave (Louisiana Creole) cultures and has become one of the signature elements associated with the celebration of Mardi Gras.

Similar to the Galette des Rois, a toy figurine — “la fève” — is baked into the Mardi Gras King Cake. In both the French and Lousiana Creole traditions, finding la fève in your slice symbolizes good fortune and grants you king- or queen-of-the-day status.

The Louisiana King Cake is not the only variation of the Galette that is out there. The tradition has spread to many different cultures around the world, each with their own variations. 

Though Epiphany has come and gone, the Galette des Rois will be available at St. Honoré until January 31st. 

St. Honoré's Galette des Rois

View Slideshow »

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