To many, there's a separate dimension of the food world that seems unapproachable to everyone except the elites of the culinary industry. From crème brûlée and croque monsieurs, to clafoutis and the classic galette, these dishes may seem unimaginable to whip up on your own, but are in fact some of the most open-ended, creative, and easy-to-make masterpieces for anyone to create. Of these dishes, a galette is arguably the easiest to make. What is a galette? Your new baking addiction.

What Is a Galette?

bread, sweet, pastry
Kristine Mahan

A galette, more specifically the galette des rois, is one of the most beloved dishes in the French cuisine. This sacred food is one of the most popular types of galettes and is composed of a delicate puff pastry dough with a small charm, or fève, hidden inside. The center of the dessert is filled with frangipane, a cream made from sweet almonds, butter, eggs, and sugar. Americans may recognize the galette des rois as King Cake, a celebratory dessert served up across the nation around Mardis Gras and Epiphany.

However, not all galettes are identical. By definition, a galette is simply a flat, round cake made of pastry dough or bread. Ranging from pancake-like pastries to what looks like a rustic pie, the openness to creative interpretation and individualistic freedom make galettes a culinary masterpiece for all to enjoy.

Most Common Types of Galettes 

Pithiviers/La Galette de Rois

As mentioned earlier, the galette de rois, also commonly known as pithiviers in France, is one of the most widely eaten types of galettes. Originally centered around the celebration of Epiphany—a food-filled holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus and the interaction with the three wise men—the pithiviers was introduced to the French people as early as the 1300s.

The ingredients have largely remained the same, but the popularity of this beloved dish has spread across the world. For those who want to step up their Mardi Gras King Cake game, the galette de rois is the go-to choice for these decadent desserts.

Galette Comtoise

This eloquent galette is also known as a bisontine pancake and can be traced back as a revolutionary of its own. While the main component of this dish is a traditional choux pastry, the people from the east region of Franche-Comté put their spin on the galette des rois by simplifying the ingredients.

The straightforward ingredients and elementary methods sparked a trend of thicker, semi-sweet, bread-like dishes, which some may say lead to the popularization of the famous brioche bread. The galette comtoise has yet to make it onto the mainstream global food scene, but if you're feeling like a trendsetter, be adventurous and whip up a batch of this cherished French pastry. 

Galette Complète

Just when you thought galettes lived drama-free in a utopia of French cuisine, the galette complète had to come and mess it all up. While some claim this street food dish is, in fact, a galette since you fold in the edges as you would in a traditional galette, many challenge the status of this savory concoction due to the fact that the base is a crepe.

In its simplest form, the galette complète is composed of a buckwheat crepe and is commonly filled with savory meats, cheeses, herbs, and vegetables. Whether you call it a crepe or a galette, this modern twist on a long admired dish serves as a terrific representation of contemporary European cuisine.

Customize It

More often than not, this pastry takes the form as a sweet, open-faced tart piled high with fruit or chocolate, but many still love the endless savory combinations that can turn a galette into a main course. One community that has recently popularized the galette in American cuisine are vegetarians. While the classic greens of a salad are a great go-to for those who choose a meat-free life, galettes are a surprisingly great way to bridge the gap between the two worlds of food.

The steps are easy: make your pie-like dough, roll it out, fill it with your favorite veggies, cheeses, and spices, then fold the edges in, bake, and enjoy. While there are some terrific recipes out there for a stellar galette dough, some hard-core lovers of galettes claim this dish is so customizable you don't even need a step by step list to make the meal of your dreams.

This delicious dish is so open-ended that anyone from any culture can customize it into the perfect food for any occasion. Whether you take it old school and dig into the roots of European culture or add your own unique flair, you can't go wrong with a tasty galette.

The next time someone asks you what a galette is, you'll know just the answer—an all around, culturally rich, fantastically fabulous French dish with endless possibilities to satisfy every food-loving person's needs.