Galette des Rois: Everything you need to know

It's an age-old tradition in France, but the serving and eating of this pastry tart is still a hot new event on the London food scene

Updated on 06 December 2021 • Written By Lawrence Calman-Grimsdale

Galette des Rois: Everything you need to know

You might have spotted it on your Instagram - but what's the big deal with that flakey pastry cake wearing a crown?

Whilst many will still be struggling to digest the copious amount of food that comes with Christmas and New Year, we do have another gastronomic date for your diary which has long been a custom in many a foodie’s calendar. As with all the best food-related traditions, the festivity comes from France and is celebrated annually on 6 January to mark the feast of Epiphany. The star of the show? The Galette des Rois: a crispy puff pastry tart filled with a soft and buttery frangipane almond filling (and sometimes alternatives like apples, plums or even chocolate).

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The tradition is said to date back to the 14th Century and is meant to mark the arrival of the three kings to meet baby Jesus. However, the making and eating of the cake has picked up some strange customs over the years, whose origins are trickier to trace. Perhaps most bizarrely - tradition denotes that the youngest in the room must hide under a table and pronounce to the cutter who should be given which piece. Somewhere within the glorified galette hides a charm known as a “féve” – traditionally this was a bean but it’s now more commonly a plastic trinket which many people collect to mark their years of good fortune. Whoever finds the féve (without swallowing it in the process) is declared King or Queen of the party and is given the crown which originally adorned the tart to wear all evening.

In true French style, the cake is usually accompanied – not with a cup of tea – but a glass of cider or Champagne, and the event is often a welcomed excuse for a party to chase away the January blues. In recent years Londoners have become rather fond of the occasion too and many bakeries, patisseries and restaurants across the capital serve their own version of the delicacy throughout January.

Where to find Galette des Rois in London

Brasserie Zédel

Exclusively on Sunday 2 January, the iconic French restaurant Brasserie Zédel will be hosting their ever-popular Fête des Rois celebration. For more information, stay tuned to their social media and newsletter for when reservations open. 

Le Deli Robuchon

This year, Le Deli Robuchon is celebrating the Galette des Rois season with an exquisite take on the French classic which serves six. This is available to purchase in-store from 20th December and throughout January, so customers can celebrate with family and loved ones with a little flexibility.

Bread Ahead

Bread Ahead has branches dotted all over London, including Beak Street, Borough Market and Hampstead. This friendly bakery offers cakes, courses and most importantly, Galette des Rois. This is a top-notch pastry team, so expect nothing less than the best from their take on the Epiphany confectionary.

The Connaught


Last year, The Connaught threw its annual party for the hospitality industry which is usually attended by an A-list of top chefs, restaurateurs, and hosted by the hotel’s 2 Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze. For anyone else wanting a slice of the action, the hotel served the galette throughout the month of January and anyone who found a lucky féve is gifted another tart to take home with them. We can't wait to see what they do this year!

Balthazar

Elsewhere Covent Garden restaurant Balthazar served a variation of the tart on their menu and in its next-door boulangerie. Last year, a slice of the iconic French dessert came served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and any guests who found the hidden figurine received a golden crown and complimentary glass of Champagne. Discerning palettes noticed the touch of orange zest and hazelnut powder in the frangipane. A whole galette was also available to order online for home or office delivery.

Mariage Frères

Last year, this luxury tea emporium spoiled us with a choice of two different Galette des Rois. The Amandier Blanc was a striking glossy black version of the frangipane classic, infused with Mariage Frères signature Marco Polo tea blend, filled with Amandier Blanc tea paste and topped with a silver dragee. Alternatively, the Vert Amande was a more traditional golden colour but with a gentle infusion of Mariage Frères green almond tea blend. Each served between six and eight and costs £45 to sit in or takeaway.

PAUL Bakery

For a more affordable version, last year the patisserie chain PAUL sold their traditional limited edition Galette Frangipane across all their shops and most likely will again this year. The cake was comprised of buttery puff pastry with a creamy frangipane centre. True to tradition it came served with a hidden ceramic charm and a golden crown for whoever discovered it. 

We’re delighted to have a reason for postponing the detox, but if that post-Christmas diet is weighing on your conscience then check out the 25 healthy restaurants in London that you need to try.