Saturday, 4 January 2014

Challenge of the Week #4

The challenge: The classic post Christmas cake the galette des rois

On 26 December, through the magic of Christmas, the bûches de Noël disappear from the pȃtisseries of Paris, and in their place appear flat discs of puff pastry, destined to be eaten on the Feast of the Epiphany or the Fȇte des Rois, celebrated on the Sunday closest to January 6. They tend to come in three varieties, some with plain tops, some with simple geometric designs, and others with elaborate patterns of laurel leaves, rather like the gold, frankincense and myrrh offered to the baby Jesus by the three Kings. 

Biting into the cripsy exterior, your mouth fills with a sweet almond frangipane as flakes of pastry fall like needles from the Christmas tree to cover the floor. But let the eater beware, for one lucky person will have, concealed in their slice the fève, orignally, as the name suggests, a bean, but now more commonly a ceramic figure from the Christmas story. Tradition dictates that the youngest person present must sit under the dining table while the galette is cut and chooses the order in which the slices will be distributed. On finding the fève you have the honor of being crowned King for the day, with a cardboard crown supplied with the galette

A selection of traditional fèves

In keeping with the commercialization of Christmas, you will often see galettes sold in the supermarket with fèves in the shape of cartoon characters, or whichever children's film is popular that year. This year, for example, my local supermarket was touting the rather bizarre concept of galettes concealing Bilbo Baggins. 

The recipe for the galette des rois is quite simple in itself, but it calls for pȃte feuilletée, which as you will remember from my last post, is anything but simple. If making the recipe below, you can either make your own, or do as many French people do nowadays, and buy it ready made from the shop. 

Here is a link to a round of up of the galettes des rois created this year by the top pȃtissieres here in Paris. 

La galette des rois

Active time: 20 mins
Total time: 1 hr

500g pȃte feuilletée (puff pastry)

For the frangipane:
125g / 4 tbsp butter
125g / 5/8 cup sugar
125g / 1 cup powdered almonds
2 whole eggs
1 tsp almond essence

For the glaze:1 whole egg, beaten

1. Make the puff pastry, if you are starting from scratch, and give it four turns only. 

2. Make the frangipane. Beat the butter and sugar together using a whisk or an electric mixer. Add the powdered almonds and mix well. Then beat in the eggs and the almond essence. 

3. Roll and cut out two large discs of the pȃte feuilletée (approximately 8 inches each). Put the frangipane into a piping bag and then, leaving about an inch  at the edge, pipe a spiral into the center of one of the discs. Take the fève and push it into the frangipane in a random place. 

4. Using a pastry brush, wet the exposed edge of the pastry with water. Then cover the whole with the second disk and press down to stick the edges of the disks together. Brush the whole of the surface with beaten egg and leave in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes. 

5. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 390°F Brush the surface with a second layer of egg and then make a small hole in the centre with a knife. Score a pattern on the top with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut through the pastry. 

6. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes and then a further 10 minutes with the oven door open. Bon appetit!

I decided on a star design for my galette in keeping with the Epiphany story.

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