The title translates to “The kings and their cake”, their cake being the tortell de reis served up in Catalunya and Spain. Of course, it’s just a cake to celebrate Three King’s Day on January 6, or Epiphany as it’s known in other countries, not that the kings actually brought a cake (such as the tortell pictured below) along with them (though if you went to see the pessebre, nativity scene, in Barcelona’s cathedral, you’d be forgiven if you believed that the kings brought gifts of gold, frankincense and a bonsai tree).

El Tortell de Reis

In London, the French style galette des rois is easier to find, what with the profusion of French patisseries. This is a puff pastry filled with a almond frangipane filling. Inside the pastry is a single fève, traditionally really a bean but now a porcelain figurine, and if the fève were to land in your slice of galette, you are declared king or queen and get to wear the cardboard crown that comes with the pastry.

Now, this version in Catalunya is a ring of brioche-like cake filled with frangipane and topped with colourful candied fruit. It appears to be similar to the gâteau des rois more popular in the south of France. Anyway, the main difference seems to be the inclusion of two trinkets inside – both a fava bean and a porcelain figurine. The recipient of the former has to pay for the cake while the winner of the latter gets the crown.

Cutting the Tortell

We had an early lunch the day we left Barcelona (on January 6th itself) and afterwards, Blai’s mother brought out this grand tortell. From what I’ve seen in practice, the knife always seems to hit at least one of the favours inside! Oh, it was so delicious with the soft bready cake, the sugared fruit, and the sweet marzipan filling. The marzipan/frangipane filling was especially delectable and I could have just had bucketfuls of that.

And here’s a photo of all the goodies found both within the cake and decorating it outside.


This brings to an end my short series of posts from Barcelona. For all my photos from this past trip, please visit my Flickr photoset.