DISHING UP THE HOLIDAYS: Raffi Tachdjian’s King Cake

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Every Monday for the next several weeks, we’re talking with a range of people — from restaurant chefs to home cooks — about holiday food traditions from different communities throughout Southern California.

Raffi in his kitchen.
Raffi in his kitchen. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

It’s a series we’re calling “Dishing Up the Holidays.” So far we’ve heard about chile roasted turkeymac and cheese, and latkes. This week we check out a recipe for King Cake or Galette des Rois.

Raffi Tachdjian is an allergist and immunologist. He was born into an Armenian family in Lebanon. They moved to Montreal when he was a child and then relocated to Los Angeles. Through it all, his family’s Christmas traditions have undergone some changes. But some things have remained the same — including the recipe for his mother’s King Cake or Galette des Rois.

A cake fit for a king. Photo: Lionel Allorge/CC

Here’s the recipe that Raffi and his family use (with ingredients converted from the metric). 

And here are a couple of other recipes for galette des rois, with different suggestions for crimping and finishing the top: David Lebovitz’s recipe and Bon Jour Paris’ Epiphany Cake  

Chef Raymond Blanc’s Galette des Rois

This dessert is often served to mark Epiphany, celebrated on Jan. 6. It is the custom to hide a little figure in the almond cream. The person who finds it will become the King or Queen for the day.  


For the puff pastry

– 400 grams (1 pound) puff pastry, all butter, ready rolled

For the almond cream

– 75 grams (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

– 75 grams (1/2 cup) powdered sugar

– 75 grams (2 ½ ounces) almonds, ground

– 1 whole egg, free range/organic

– 1 egg yolk, free range/organic

– 1 tablespoon dark rum or cognac

You will get two sheets of pastry.  Cut a 20 cm (8 inch) circle for the base from one sheet and a 22 cm (about 8.5 inch) circle for the top out of the other sheet; refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350 degrees Fahrenheit).  In a large bowl, whisk the butter, sugar, almonds, and egg together and mix to a smooth texture; reserve in the fridge.

Spoon the almond cream into the center of the puff pastry reserved for the base. With a palette knife, spread the cream into an even circle, leaving a 2 cm (three-quarters of an inch) gap from the edge.  Brush the beaten egg yolk mixture around the 2 cm gap and carefully drape the top circle of pastry neatly on top.   Press gently to expel all the air and using your thumb, seal the pastry all around the edge. Chill or deep freeze the galette for 1 hour to firm up the pastry and with a sharp knife, trim the edge of the galette into an even circle so that it rises evenly.  With the back of a knife crimp the outside of the pastry all around the edge.

Brush the galette with the combination of beaten egg yolk and rum. With the side of a fork or back of a knife, start from the center of the galette and score a spiral right up to the edge of the pastry. Repeat this to achieve an attractive design (if you feel unsure you could just simply crisscross the top of the galette).

Cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes.  Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.