When Lou Correa was a child growing up in France, the mouthwatering smell of puff pastry dough and almond cream baking in the oven meant that not only had the holiday season arrived, but he’d soon be able to enjoy one of his favorite festive treats — galette des rois. Fast-forward years later, and Correa is able to recreate the same holiday magic he felt in his youth by making the delicious dessert for countless Toluca Lake residents at Lou the French on the Block, the popular Riverside Drive bakery and bistro he runs with his wife, Karima.
“Galette des rois (king’s cake) is the perfect dish to enjoy a special moment with your family when everyone is reunited for the holidays,” Correa says. “Inside the galette, we hide a little ceramic figurine called la fève. Nobody knows where the fève is hidden, so when the galette is served, everyone picks their piece, and the person who has the figurine becomes the queen or king and gets to pick a queen or a king to join them.”
While discovering who wins the prized fève adds to the overall experience of enjoying this tasty treat, it’s the flaky golden pastry, the rich almond cream, and the love and care customers feel after each bite that has the Toluca Lake community coming back for more.
But don’t wait too long to sink your teeth into the crispy, buttery goodness — staying true to French tradition, galette des rois is only on the menu for a limited time. Because the dish traditionally celebrates Epiphany, the January 6 holiday that marks the arrival of the Three Kings, galette des rois is exclusively available at Lou the French on the Block during the holiday season, so don’t be surprised if you see residents lined up out the door trying to get one last taste for the year.
“Our customers love it!” Correa says. “This item has been on the menu for three years. It’s new to most people, so they get to know the story that comes with it and learn about a French Christmas tradition. As a French bakery, we have to have this on our menu. It’s a tradition in France, and we are here to share our culture.”
And Correa has generously shared the recipe with us, so you can try your hand at making this French holiday favorite with your family, whenever the mood strikes.
For more about Lou and Karima Correa, read “Marrying Love and Business at Lou the French on the Block.”
GALETTE DES ROIS
Stand mixer or hand mixer
For the almond cream:
- Place butter in the microwave for 25 seconds, until soft but not melted.
- In a bowl, mix almond flour, sugar and softened butter until the texture is grainy.
- Add eggs and mix for 5 minutes until well incorporated (stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer works best; allow additional time if doing this step by hand).
- Cover and rest the cream in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
For the galette (take puff pastry dough out of freezer 15 minutes before using):
- Cut two identical 10-inch circles from the puff pastry dough.
- Transfer the almond cream mixture to the center of the first round and evenly spread mixture into a level layer, leaving a 1-inch border to the edge of the round.
- Using a brush or finger, spread water around the 1-inch border.
- Place the second 10-inch dough circle on top and gently press with a fork to seal the edges.
- Cover and rest the galette in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take the galette out of the freezer and flip it upside down, so the bottom is now the top.
- Gently beat one egg yolk in a small bowl, and use a brush to spread egg over the dough.
- Use a knife to cut three small slits on top of the galette.
- Bake the galette on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 40 minutes until golden.
- Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
- Use a standard dinner plate as a guide to cut the puff pastry dough into two identical circles.
- You can freeze the unbaked galette for a couple of days.