Click here to advertise on

Catholic Recipe: Gateau des Rois (2)


  • 8 oz puff pastry
  • 4 oz marzipan (or almond filling)
  • 1/2 cup icing (confectioners) sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • few nuts and cherries
  • Details

  • Yield: 1 cake
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 11+
  • Origin: France

Also Called: Twelfth Night Cake

The tradition of a Twelfth Night cake goes back seven hundred years. In England it is mentioned in the royal accounts at the court of Edward II. In France in the thirteenth century the monks of Mont St. Michel are known to have celebrated with a cake known as Gateau des Rois. There are various customs attached to this cake and many recipes for it. However, the main purpose is to choose a king and queen to rule over the party celebrations. This is done by putting a dry bean into the cake. Whoever gets the piece with the bean becomes the king. He then chooses himself a queen. If a lady receives the bean she chooses herself a king. Sometimes a child sits under the table and calls out the name of each person to be served with the next piece of cake. The king and queen are given crowns to wear, all others present choose a ticket from a dish with the name of the character they are to be - such as Sir Gregory Goose, Duchess of Daffodil, Miss Tink-a-Tink, Tom Tough and so on.

In France the Gateau des Rois usually has three kings on top. These can still be bought in French shops. But a cut-out king or even three crowns can be used if you make your own cake. These could be gold for the gift of gold which signifies Jesus' kingship; white for the gift of frankincense which signifies Jesus' holiness; and purple for the gift of myrrh which signifies Jesus' death.


1. Divide the pastry in two and roll out both pieces into rounds.

2. Roll out the marzipan into a round of the same size.

3. Put marzipan on one of the rounds of pastry, sprinkle over the nuts and cherries. Place the other pastry round on top and seal the edges.

4. Allow to rest for 30 minutes then bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, until well risen and golden brown in color.

5. Allow to cool then ice with icing made from the icing sugar and enough lemon juice to mix to a spreading consistency.

6. Decorate as desired with three crowns, a king or a star.

Recipe Source: Feasting for Festivals by Jan Wilson, Lion Publishing Corporation, Batavia, Illinois, 1990
Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on
Shop Amazon

Recent Catholic Commentary

Church Fathers: The Other Greek Apologists April 19
Mysteries, again and again! April 17
Tips for getting comfortable with evangelization April 17
The Shroud of Turin on Display (and an odd canonical case against it) April 16
The Vatican says the LCWR is acting Catholic. And that's news. April 16

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope challenges world leaders' silence on persecution of Christians CWN - April 6
Pope outlines plans for the extraordinary jubilee of mercy CWN - April 13
Vatican completes doctrinal assessment of Leadership Conference of Women Religious CWN - April 16