The Frangipane King’s Pie, a classic French pastry

There is this tradition in France a couple of weeks after Christmas, when we share the king’s pie. This pie, or pastry is called “La galette des rois”. There are only 3 official french King’s pie types, and the frangipane is one of them. Each Galette contains a Trinket (called fève which means fava bean). The trinket used to be a dry bean, and nowadays it is a little ceramic object. Some people take great pride at collecting those. In my childhood, there was a whole protocol to follow, the day of the king’s pie: With  the family gathered around the table, at the end of the Sunday lunch, the youngest child hide under the table while the host cut the pie in as many pieces as guests, plus one. The youngest call out the name of the guest to designate the recipient of each piece of pie. The guest who find the trinket in its piece is the King (or Queen) and is required to choose its Queen (or King).


Le Petit journal illustré (Paris. 1920). Bibliothèque nationale de France

The origin of this celebration, called the Epiphany is multiple:

  • It celebrates the arrival of the light: Epiphany meaning appearance, it relates to the “reappearance” of the light. As we noticed, 12 days after Christmas, the days significantly get longer with the promise of the end of the winter. The golden color pie is a symbol for the Sun.
  • It is also a very old tradition (from the antique Rome) when, for a day, the roles between masters and servants are exchanged. The Trinket (fève in French) is hidden inside the cake. Whoever find it in its piece is nominated to be the king of the day, and plays the role of the master!
  • It relates to the Christian tradition too: the celebration of epiphany is when the Christ (just born) meet the people of the world – symbolized by the visit from the Magi (an other name for the three Kings). Although I was brought up knowing only this last tradition, I haven’t figure out the straightforward connection with the pie.

This recipe is very easy, and I encourage you to enroll your kids in helping you with the measurement or the decoration. It should take you no more than 30 minutes of preparation (20 for the trained bakers!) and 30 minutes of baking. Serves 8 slices.

There is a trend in some Parisian pastry, where chefs add a little chocolate in the Frangipane. If you’d like to try, I suggest you add 1/3 cup of bitter sweet chocolate in small pieces in the frangipane before spreading (step 9). The chocolate will melt while baking and add a nice velvety touch.

Let me know how it goes, and if you like it! Happy baking 😉


The Traditional Frangipane King’s Pie recipe:

            • Easy
            • Preparation time: 30 minutes
            • Baking time: 30 minutes
            • Instruments: 1 whisk, 1 large bowl, 1 Pie or tart baking dish of 6 to 8 inches


  • 2 ready to use rolled puff pastry, (fresh or frozen, make sure you let it defrost in ambient temperature. for to result, choose a good quality one: with the least amount of added ingredients. You can make it from scratch. It is a real achievement and very time consuming)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter,
  • 1/2 cup white sugar,
  • 3/4 cup of almond meal,
  • 1 tablespoon of flour,
  • 1/2 tsp of almond extract (optional, but really add up the flavour),
  • 2 whole eggs,
  • 1 egg yolk (separately),
  • 1 tsp of cold water,
  • 1 trinket (you can use a button or a coin. Make sure it is clean and big enough not to be swallowed – 1 inch is safe. Avoid using trinket with children under 3 years old as they may hurt themselves)


    1. Preheat your oven at 230°F
    2. Melt the butter until creamy (30 seconds in the microwave, carefully watching and stirring)
    3. Whisk while adding the sugar1
    4. When smooth, add the 2 whole eggs, one at a time, still whisking
    5. Add the almond meal progressively, still whisking,
    6. Add the almond extract if you choose to do so
    7. Keep whisking and add little by little your spoon of flour. Make sure it stays smooth and creamy. Congratulation, you’ve made a wonderful Frangipane cream!2
    8. Unroll one puff pastry on your baking dish, keeping the wax paper under.3
    9. Starting at the center, spread the Frangipane evenly on the dough, stopping at 1 inch of the side of the dish.4
    10. Place the Trinket on the border of the filling. As you see, I choose a pretty $2 Hong-Kong coin.Feve5
    11. Unroll and cut the second puff pastry so it fits exactly inside the dish. In here, I took off 1 inch. 6
    12. Set the dough remnant on the side.
    13. Carefully top your dish with the second dough, adjusting gently to avoid breaking it.
    14. Now, proceed to seal both pastries together by first pressing firmly the outskirt (A), and then folding the side inward like you would do a seam (B). I use a little water on my fingers to help gluing things properly.




    15. Next step is to decorate the pie. Draw stripes or curves on your cake by lightly stroking a sharp knife on the surface. Use the dough remnant to cut shapes (kids live doing that I must credit Fashion Cooking who gave me the idea for the stars!). And finish with a brush of the beaten egg yolk + 1 tsp of cold water, to create a shining surface.91210
  1. With a toothpick (or pointy knife), pierce the dough all through the pie, about every 2 inches, so it will help the pie to blow evenly. 11
  2. Put inside your oven for 30 minutes @ 230°F.IMG_3434

Enjoy warm (you can warm is up quickly before serving it, if you prepared it ahead of time).


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