The French galette des rois, or “king’s cake” (not to be confused with the Southern cake of the same name) is probably my favorite of the holiday desserts of y childhood, which makes it all the more upsetting that I haven’t been able to find it anywhere in Memphis...till now. But more on that later.
First, let me explain why galette is so special.
It is a dessert served on January 6th,the feast of the Epiphany (when the three Kings visited baby Jesus) and every Sunday afterwards for the rest of January.
A month long feast ? Now that’s a tradition I can get behind! As a little girl, I remember wearing pretty smock dresses and spending Sunday afternoons at friends’ houses, hoping I would find the ‘feve’ in my slice of cake.
Let me explain : the youngest child hides under the table and calls out the name of each guest, as portions of galette are handed around. Then, the children feverishly tear at their pieces of cake to find a small porcelain charm, called a “feve.” When it’s found, the lucky owner becomes king or queen and gets to pick a consort. Paper crowns are distributed, hearts are broken, flakes from the buttery crust cover everything.
Galettes are basically layers upon layers of buttery pate feuilletee (puff pastry), stuffed with frangipane (sweetened almond paste.)The cakes are very labor intensive, and for that reason rarely made at home. Rather, they are purchased from one’s neighborhood patisserie. Which is why I have been galette-less for all these years: if I am not making one, who is?
Ladies and gentlemen, a savior has emerged in the heart of Midtown. Authentic, no froufrou, handmade galettes are now available at market favorite Tart Memphis on Cooper St !
So go on, get yourself an authentic galette, and see who is crowned king (or queen !) in YOUR house this Sunday.