Will I finally get to wear the crown? Three Kings Cake (Galettes des Rois)

Three Kings Cake with a gold crown for the King (or Queen!).
The King is the person whose piece of cake contains the plastic figurine or fève (broad bean).

Certain things are meant to remain a mystery but when our daughter noticed the Three Kings Cakes (Galettes des Rois) making their annual appearance, she couldn't control her curiosity any longer and asked why our family always had two kings instead of one on January 6 (Epiphany). Deciding that it was the right moment to share a family secret, I revealed that I had always planted two little kings in the cake so that both of our children would have the pleasure of being named "King (and Queen) for the Day". After pondering the wily ways of her mother, Sara asked why her father and I never found one of the little plastic kings or broad beans in our cake by mistake, thus forcing me to confess that it was all part of the plan. Just like a gambler marks a deck of cards, I marked the location of the figurines when I baked our Three Kings Cake to ensure that Sara and Philippe would find them.

This year, however, chaos may reign supreme on January 6 because we're going to buy a cake from our local bakery and the location of the lone plastic statuette will be anyone's guess. Perhaps I'll finally have the good fortune to be crowned "Queen for the Day"!

Interestingly enough, President Sarkozy won't be able to wear the gold paper crown because French presidents aren't allowed to "draw the kings" on Epiphany. In accordance with etiquette, a traditional galette minus the plastic figurine and crown will be served at the Elysée Palace.

While looking for my recipe for Three Kings Cake, I came across these notes that Sara took when she learned how to make a Three Kings Cake at the Alimentarium in Vevey, Switzerland many years ago.


  1. I've only had Three Kings Cake a couple of times, and each time, surprisingly, I have found the bean in the first slice! That's about all the luck I've ever had.

    I love knowing the tradition for the Elysee Palace, didn't know that before.

  2. Oh Mary Kay: your picture and recipe catrd are making me very hungry. And alas, i don't happen to have any Three Kings Cake handy here in Boston! Hope ytou are doing well. Happy New Year to you and your family. Otis says hello!

  3. That's funny about the presidential galette! I suppose they think if one of them got the crown they would become power-crazed and immediately overthrow the government and set themselves up as a king for real ha ha :D

  4. Joseph, Perhaps all of the people with whom you shared the Three Kings Cakes wanted you to find the bean so that you would be the "King" for the day! I didn't know about the protocol at the Elysee Palace until I started looking for differences between the way the Swiss and the French celebrate Epiphany.

    Happy New Year, Mike! It was so good to see the photo of your smiling face next to your comment! I should have sent a Three Kings Cake back to Boston for you with Sara. I'm sure that Otis would have sniffed out the bean -- but come to think of it, isn't he always the King? My best wishes to Peter and you for the start of the new year!

    Gwan, I also had to laugh when I discovered that the French president isn't allowed to have a real Three Kings Cake with a bean and a crown. I can see how the thrill of wearing a gold paper crown could go straight to someone's head! ;) I may be taking over the entire country on the 6th!


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