Wednesday is the 6th of January, the feast of the Epiphany, which commemorates the visit of the Magi. Churches which mark the date often do it on the first Sunday after New Year and in France there's special cakes for the occasion, enjoyed with champagne (apparently) or French cider. French cider is very low in alcohol and comes in sweet or dry varieties, though both seem pretty sweet to me.

The cake is the galette or the couronne des rois. A Galette des Rois is a disc of two thick layers of fish, buttery flaky pastry with a filling of black cherry, prunes, apples or, most usually, frangipane. All these fruits are typical of the South-West of France, of course. The Couronne des Rois is marginally lighter, being a ring of brioche sometimes flavoured with chocolate chips, with dried fruit, plain or, my favourite, with orange-blossom water.

Both cakes are sold complete with a paper crown, and there's a small figurine, the feve, baked into the cake. This is what you do:

The youngest person in the group hides under the table and then chooses which person gets the first, second and subsequent slices. This way there can be no skullduggery about who gets the feve. The person who finds the figurine in their slice gets to wear the crown.

We had two couronnes des rois after the evening service, one with chocolate chips and the other with orange-blossom. Very good, too.


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