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Baking a Twelfth Night Cake

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One of our family traditions is to bake a “galette des rois” or Twelfth Night Cake every year in January. This is a lovely French tradition. To celebrate the Epiphany, you share a cake with friends or relatives. There is a charm hidden in the cake. The person who finds the charm in his or her piece of cake becomes king or queen for a day and has to wear a paper crone. 

Baking a Twelfth Night Cake

All French bakeries are selling this cake the all month, as French people love this tradition so much that they do not only celebrate it on January the 6th but whenever they can in January. However, for French people living abroad, this can be much more difficult to find it. I live in Germany and there, you can only find it in a few French bakeries. So if you want to eat Twelfth Night cake, you have to bake it. Fortunately, I found a recipe that is so easy that I can even bake the cake with my children. We are also making and decorating the paper crone ourselves, so the children have a lot of fun.

My children are binational and it is important for me that they might know about both French and German cultures. I am speaking mostly French with them and my husband speaks German to them. The children receive each month little children magazines in French. And we try to celebrate all the French and German traditions. For instance, German traditions include Saint Martin’s day, when the children make little lanterns and then walk in procession carrying their lanterns and singing Martin’s day songs. This tradition does not exist in France, although Saint Martin is actually the patron saint of France.

As for Twelfth Night, there are very different traditions in France and in Germany. In France, we have our Twelfth Night cake whereas in Germany, children dress themselves as the Three Wise Men and go from door to door singing carols. They are often given money for charity projects. Once they visited a house they leave a sign above the door: for instance for 2019 2014, it would be “20 * C + M + B + 19“.

My recipe

  • 2 puff pastry rolls 
  • 200g (7oz) almond powder
  • 150g (5oz) butter
  • 125g (4,5oz) caster sugar
  • 3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • A charm

Set the oven to 180°C (Mix together the almond powder, butter, caster sugar and eggs. Line a pie dish with baking paper and roll out the first puff pastry roll. Then spread the almond mixture on the puff pastry. Put a charm somewhere on the cake and then cover everything with the second puff pastry. Then, spread some egg yolk on the cake. Then bake the cake for about twenty minutes.

French people usually drink a glass of cider (apple juice for children) when eating the cake.


  • Tina

    What a fun idea! I had never heard of this before. What kind of charm goes into the cake? Your children are so lucky to be growing up in a home with so many traditions. And it’s great that they are already two languages! My kids didn’t start foreign language until middle school and I am not sure how much of that really stuck. Thanks for a great post!

    • momslovelearning

      This is actually a small porcelain figurine. In French, we call it fève, which means bean because originally people used to put a dried bean in the cake.

    • momslovelearning

      Well, I still miss the French bakeries 🙂 However, with home-made galettes, I can cheat and make sure that my daughter gets the fève. Next year, I will probably even be obliged to hide two of them in the cake, as the little brother is now getting interested too. The baby is fortunately still too young to care.

  • willedare

    This is a delightful blog post. The photo of your 12th Night Cake is very appetizing! I agree with the other comments that it is lovely you and your husband are raising your children to be bilingual and bicultural. I will now go and drink a glass of apple cider even though I do not have any 12th Night Cake to share with friends…

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