January 6 is Epiphany, or the twelfth day of Christmas. It is traditionally celebrated as the final day of the Christmas season, is a feast celebration, and marks the day that the wise men brought gifts to the Christ Child.
In our household, as in many, Christmas greenery is left in place until Epiphany passes.
When I lived in France, it was traditional to eat a delicious Kings’ Cake on this day, called a “galette des rois.” It’s different from the Mardi Gras King Cake you might have seen, which is shaped like a ring and decorated with purple, gold, and green sugar, and beads. The Mardi Gras cakes are also offered on Epiphany through Mardi Gras, or the Tuesday before Lent.
The French Kings’ cake is a flakier pastry concoction, however, more like a Pithviers than a layer cake, and typically has almond paste inside, and is generally eaten during Epiphany. The cake concealed a small baby or other nativity figure, and was adorned with a gold paper crown. If you got the token in your slice of cake, you got to wear the crown and would be king for the day.
It can be hard to find a real, French-style king’s cake in this area. I saw one at La Madeleine Bakery and Cafe this week, however, for about $16.