Epiphany is an annual event not just in the Christian calendar, but in that of London’s best bakeries. It brings the opportunity to turn out golden, puffed, and sweet Galettes des Rois, one of the most famous — and finicky — French patisseries. Here are the best of the best in the city.Read More
The Best Galettes des Rois in London
Some devotedly traditional, others with un petit twist
This year, Aries Bakehouse will offer two types of Galette des Rois from its base on Brixton’s Acre Lane. A traditional almond frangipane galette is distinguished by a handsome shell of fantastically crisp pastry, that disperses into buttery shrapnel at the lightest touch. An orange and hazelnut version, meanwhile, fills inverted puff pastry made with spelt with a richly textured hazelnut beurre noisette frangipane. These will be available whole or by the slice throughout January from Saturday 7th — a day after the traditional Epiphany — when Aries Bakehouse reopens for 2023.
The Connaught Pâtisserie
The Connaught’s annual tradition of celebrating the feast of the Epiphany with optically dazzling Galette des Rois just got more exclusive. This year’s hidden fève — a small charm inside each galette — takes the form of 8 collectable porcelain Connaught hounds, in colours inspired by the pastries that adorn its patisserie counter. Alongside the traditional Galette des Rois, comprised of ecstatically crunchy, buttery puff pastry wrapped around a filling of almond frangipane and vanilla curd, Nicolas Rouzaud and team are also baking the Provencal speciality of Brioche des Rois. Rarely found outside the region, this super-soft enriched brioche ring adorned with crystallised sugar and candied fruits, to resemble a bejewelled crown, is similar to the Spanish Roscôn de Reyes. It offers a welcome change to the all-conquering, frangipane-filled social media behemoth of the GdR.
This new micro-bakery from self-taught George Fuest has impressed London coffee royalty in Rosslyn Coffee and Paradox, who stocked its mince pies over Christmas. This sets the bar high for Fuest’s Galette des Rois, which will be available for one day only on Friday 13 January. Fuest learned his trade at Flor, Toad, and Landrace, in Bath, and his hand-laminated inverted puff pastry made with Estate Dairy cultured butter and a mix of Miller’s Choice population wheat and Ölands heritage wheat follows in their footsteps by dedicating itself to old varieties. Inside, the traditional filling of almond frangipane and crème patisserie will contain a fève in the form of a whole almond. Orders can be placed via Instagram.
Organic sourdough bakery Today Bakery typically uses social media to share its involvement t in community projects, like its Today Food cooperative. However, the handmade Galette des Rois has stepped into the Instagram spotlight, as the Epiphany-adjacent pastry enjoys its annual hot minute. French pastry chef Kelly Nadjarian has perfected the mesmerising golden-fired galettes, with inverted puff pastry made with butter from Isigny St. Mere for a result most faithful to French tradition. Each galette includes a hidden ceramic king and comes with a paper crown for the person who finds it, and can be pre-ordered with 48 hours’ notice for collection throughout January.
Birley Bakery has opened on Cale Street just off Chelsea’s Kings Road, and will bake 20 bronzed and burnished Galette des Rois in celebration of the Epiphany throughout January. A classic recipe made with top-quality ingredients matches the traditional, French boulangerie feel and old- school glamour evoked by the rich red interiors, glass-fronted display and fleet of pastry chefs in pristine whites. While it’s early days for this new opening, Birley Bakery has already received high praise from several of Instagram’s most discerning pastry scouts, suggesting that this spot may help to put Chelsea back on the map as a bakery destination.
When Le Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef Shaheen Peerbhai — alias Purple Foodie — opened a French boulangerie on Warren Street, Galette des Rois was always going to enjoy a special moment on the menu. A true labour of love, each galette is a three-day process, that begins with puff pastry made using Isigny Sainte-Mère butter and Moulin Dupuis flour for l’authenticité on day one. That gets precisely laminated on the second day, before finally being filled with rich, rum-boosted almond frangipane cream concealing the hidden fève on the third day. Sharp scoring, hot-stone baking, and generous glazing result in a glistening burnished finish that faithfully resembles a crown. Miel Bakery will also offer a weekend special galette, filled with Piedmont hazelnut praline and dotted with 64 percent Valrhona Manajari chocolate, but the traditional Galette des Rois will be available throughout January for pre-order collection, nationwide shipping, and limited in-store purchase at the bakery.
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For the Epihany, Hackney Wick micro-bakery Hearth has created a dazzlingly inventive Galette des Rois. It’s filled with a “brangipane,” comprised of three kings of nuts — Spanish almonds, French walnuts and Italian hazelnuts from Food and Forest, a nut supplier that also funds agroforestry — along with bran and leftover sourdough breadcrumbs from the bakery. It’s surrounded by a friable, deep-fired pastry crust, that possesses the malted notes and lactic tang of wholegrain flour and cultured butter, creating a savoury and sublime number that gets a lift of sweetness from a slick of summer’s greengage jam spread on the bottom layer, and a glossy apricot glaze on top. Diners can try it in the bakery with a hefty dollop of Ivy House double cream, or take it away and adorn as they please.
Patisserie and choux pastry atelier Le Choux gives its Galette des Rois pride of place in its glass-fronted Ladbroke Grove shop window, as part of Franco-British pastry chef Abigail Scheur rotating cast of seasonal and festive bakes. Alongside a traditional Galette des Rois boasting intricately layered hand-laminated inverted puff pastry made with Wildfarmed flour and Normandy butter, it will also offer a “Galette des Reines,” or “Queen’s Pie,” as a nod to the all-female team. This will contain a layer of housemade gianduja alongside the classic frangipane; the fève will be a mini super-heroine figure. Whole galettes are available for pre-order in two sizes, to serve 4 or 8, while individual pies, without a fève, will be available at the shop throughout January.
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Chestnut Bakery, Belgravia
French-trained Instagram sensation baker Charles Leroy is back at the helm of Chestnut Bakery, and has channelled fresh creative energy into a za’atar Galette des Rois. Having already infused za’atar into pastries across the dazzlingly inventive and frequently changing menu, this flavour profile will be familiar to the Chestnut Bakery die-hards who insist on trying every new special. This four-day labour of love sees za’atar sprinkled across five single folds of butter for precise lamination with unrivalled depth of flavour, as well as a za’atar-infused frangipane that is sweet, savoury, and totally sublime.
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40 Maltby Street
Eating at 40 Maltby Street is often described as a quasi-religious experience, but blessed is they who gets to try a slice of the Galette des Rois. The eponymous Epiphany Cake marks the start of an annual journey through en croutes and lattice pies, which mark the passage of time at the restaurant year-on-year. A flat, gloriously puffed-up golden crust is both fatty and frugal, absent of scoring apart from the crimped edges, but possessing unrivalled richness. Beneath a deep filling of almond frangipane lies a layer of apple cheese along the base — a Lithuanian sweet made from cooked-down apples that cuts through sweetness and brings the pastry and filling into harmony. Available in the shop on Friday 6 January, or as a dessert on the restaurant menu until the following Saturday evening.