January in France is the month of the King’s Galette. Or if you are in Provence, the King’s Brioche.
The “Galette des Rois” in France is a dessert traditionally enjoyed on January 6th to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings in Bethlehem. And with it, comes the tradition of drawing the king and queen: a tricket (called “la fève“) is hidden in the galette before baking, and the guest that finds it in their slice is declared king or queen and gets to wear a paper crown for the day.
And the best part is that you’re allowed to enjoy “galettes des rois” all throughout January!
A puff-pastry Frangipane Galette in the North & A crown-shaped Brioche in the South
Now, there are 2 kinds of “galette” to celebrate the Epiphany in France. The first one – the most popular I would say – includes a creamy frangipane filling encased between two puff pastry layers (a recipe I shared here last year). This version is widely enjoyed in the Northern part of France, including Paris (which I feel is why it makes it the most well-known in France).
But this year, I wanted to make and share the second version, enjoyed in the South of France, which is a billowy brioche crown, flavored with orange blossom and topped with candied citrus and cherries. Like lots of specialties from the Southern part of France, this one bares strong influences from Spain and Portugal (where they have their own roscón de Reyes). You will find the brioche sold in southern French bakeries all throughout the month of January, known as “Brioche des Rois” in Provence, “Reiaume” in Montpellier, “Corona Bordalesa” in Bordeaux, and “Coque des Rois” in Moissac.
Perhaps because this isn’t Paris’ galette of choice, this Brioche version is far less known in the rest of France. In fact, I spent the first 25 years of my life thinking the frangipane galette was the only Galette des Rois that existed …
I loved making this King’s Brioche for a change this year. I am very fond of buttery brioches, and this one is simple to make and absolutely delicious. And because January is in the heart of citrus season, it was a natural choice to make homemade candied citrus for the decoration – choosing seasonal organic oranges and lemons.
It makes for a great, less-sweet dessert… and frankly, a delicious breakfast too.
Cooking notes :
- For the making of the candied citrus, make sure you get organic fruits as the skin, meant to be eaten too, will be pesticide-free.
- Candied cherries, also known as crystallized fruit or glacé cherries, can be found in most grocery stores (packaged in their syrup, so make sure your drain them well), or in bulk stores.
- In Canada/US, I am having a hard time getting my hands on pearl sugar (widely available in France for pastry decoration). As a substitute, I opt for sugar cubes that I crush with the back of a knife to pearl size. The result is very similar, but slightly more rustic.
For the brioche:
2 1/3 cup (293g) all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp (8g) instant yeast
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp (77g) sugar
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 tbsp (30ml) Orange Blossom
The zest of 1/2 orange (organic)
¼ cup (80g) orange marmalade
1 egg + 1 tbsp milk (for the egg wash)
3 tbsp pearl sugar (or crushed sugar cubes)
12 candied cherries
For the candied citrus:
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 cup + 2 tbsp (200ml) water
1 organic orange
1 organic lemon
Step 1 - In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Dig a well in the middle.
In a small separate bowl, mix together the eggs, soft butter, orange blossom and orange zest until smooth.
Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined and the dough starts to come together into a rough, sticky ball. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured working surface (it will be quite sticky to start) and knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is soft and just slightly sticky.
Shape into a smooth ball, leave on the working surface, cover with a kitchen cloth and let rise for 1 hour, at room temperature in a draft free environment.
Step 2 - After the 1 hour, the dough should have doubled in size. Punch it to deflate it and shape it into a long log (about 23.5-inch/60cm) and stick the “Fève” (small trinket) in it. Transfer the log into a greased savarin mould (or if you don’t have a mold: shape it into a ring, onto a parchment lined baking sheet). Cover again with a kitchen cloth and let rise for 1 hour.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F (180°).
Combine the egg and milk (to make the egg wash) and brush it all over the brioche.
Bake for 30 minutes until golden.
Step 3 - In the meantime, make the candied citrus. Wash the orange and lemon and cut into big wedges. Blanch the citrus wedges in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain immediately. In a small sauce pan, over low medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Mix for the sugar to dissolve and bring to a very slow simmer. Add the citrus wedges and simmer for 20 minutes, until the fruit is tender and sticky. Transfer the citrus wedges onto a cooling rack to dry and cool to room temperature. Slice into thin wedges.
Step 4 - A few minutes before the brioche is finished baking, warm up the orange marmalade (in a small sauce pan or in a microwave) and pass it through a fine mesh strainer to discard of the fruit bits.
When the brioche is baked, transfer onto a cooling rack and immediately brush all over with the orange marmalade. Let cool to room temperature, sprinkle with the pearl sugar, and decorate with the candied cherries and citrus wedges (in a crown shape, alternating and overlapping cherries and citrus).