The King Cake, a Provençal tradition

Provence is attached to its Christian roots and puts traditions in the spotlight. Thus, it is not surprising that we celebrate Epiphany.

Originally, Epiphany symbolizes the arrival of the Three Kings to Jesus’ birthplace. The Three Kings were called Gaspard, Melchior, and Balthazar. They were guided by a star: the star of Bethlehem. According to the legend, Balthazar followed this star to the Baux-de-Provence!

The Lords of the Baux, who pretended to be Balthazar’s descendants, thus added a 16-pointed silver star to their emblems in reference to the star of Bethlehem. “Au hasard Balthazar!” was their motto.

Nowadays in Provence, we eat a King Cake for Epiphany! It is a delicious round brioche tasting orange blossom and decorated with candied fruits that represent the precious stones offered by the Three Kings.

Today, our Chef presents you his secret recipe and gives you little tips to make your cake even tastier!

INGREDIENTS

Leaven

  • 8g of baking powder – Tips from the Chef: use fresh baking powder (reminder: 25g of fresh baking powder = 7g of dehydrated baking powder)
  • 20g of Gruau flour
  • 60g of warm water (about 40°C)

Dough

  • 200g of Gruau flour
  • 50g of white sugar – Tips: white sugar helps baking powder to ferment.
  • 50g of melted butter – Tips: prefer raw butter or raw cream butter; it is very rich in taste!
  • 2 beaten eggs – Tips: use organic or free-range eggs if possible.
  • 12ml of orange blossom water – Tips: orange blossom water comes from the distillation of bitter of orange flowers, it will give a delicate flavour.
  • 1 tbsp of honey – Tips: use local honey!
  • a zest of untreated orange
  • a zest of untreated lemon
  • 1/2 tsp of fine salt – Tips: it is essential! It adds great flavour, improve the batter elasticity, and gives a bright colour to the cake.

Topping

  • 10ml of milk to brown the cake
  • 2 tbsp of orange jam
  • 1 tbsp of honey

Decorating the cake

At Benvengudo, we buy all our candied fruits at Lilamand in Saint Rémy de Provence. The know-how of this wonderful confectionary has been passed down for five generations – this place is full of history!

  • 40g of granulated sugar – Tips: You can easily buy it in department stores
  • A few candied-fruit peels
  • Some candied fruits
  • 1 lucky charm – Tips: it is better to use a ceramic charm

DIRECTIONS

  • Stir baking powder, flour, and water to make the leaven; let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Then, stir all the dough’s ingredients, incorporate the leaven, and stir until the dough becomes homogeneous – Tips: this step is essential to raise your dough.
  • Pour the batter into a greased crown-shaped pan with a hole in the middle, add the lucky charm and cover the dough.
  • Let it stand in the fridge for one night, it must double in size.
  • Preheat the oven at 160°C. Bake at the centre of the oven for 13 minutes, then remove it from the mould, turn the cake over, and brush it with milk. Bake in the centre of the oven for another 20 minutes. Leave it cool slowly.
  • Stir orange jam and honey and baste the mixture on the cake, this will help your decorations to stand.
  • Decorate the cake with grain sugar and candied fruits – Tips: Be creative!

And now, you just have to savour it. Enjoy!

© C. Feraud-ADT04