Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a town on the coast, not far from Arles, with a wonderful church and altars to the saintes.
Jean-Marie Fassy in Maillane, one of my favorite bakers and a master fougasse maker, reports in Recettes de Provence, that they symbolize this boat, too. Les 13 desserts en Provence, a book that I bought before leaving Arles in 2008, contains a recipe for them. The paragraph accompanying the recipe reads: "Navettes symbolize the boat in which Saints Mary Jacobé and Marie Salomé arrived on the beaches of Provence. Navettes are part of the 13 desserts of Christmas but are equally a part of the Chandeleur tradition (February 2) and saving some in an armoire will bring happiness all year! The last Sunday in January, they are blessed at the shepherds' mass in Saint-Martin-de-Crau, then broken at the end of the mass as a sign of sharing and brotherhood. We like them year-round with a good cup of coffee!" I'll second that!
While in Arles last week at the Saturday market, I was asked if I knew the story about the cookies as we passed by a display of them.
On my final full day in Arles, last Sunday, I decided to go to my favorite bakery to see what treats I could bring home this time. Guy LeBlanc's pâtisserie is found on Rue du 4 septembre.
This evening's baking project has been navettes. For my first attempt, I decided to stick with the orange water recipe. I will next try lavender grains in them.
Here they are as they sit "resting" on my counter before going into the oven.
And here is the finished product.
Now, I will make myself a cup of tea to go with my warm navette. High school-age son is circling, watching the timer until they come out of the oven...
makes 24 cookies
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 1/2 - 4 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, plus one yolk
2 Tbsp. orange flower water
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. milk
Cream the butter until fluffy. Add 3 1/2 c. flour, sugar, salt, 3 eggs, flower water and water. Mix until completely combined. The dough should be stiff, just beyond sticky, so that you can handle it without it sticking to your hands. You may need to add more flour to get there.
Gather the dough in a ball and divide it in two. Divide each half into halves and then once more so that you end up with eight balls of equal size. Each of these should be then divided into three balls for a total of 24.
Roll each ball into a 3-inch long cylinder. Place them somewhat spaced apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten each cylinder and pinch the ends to form a boat shape. With a sharp knife, slit the cookie down the center, stopping at about 1/8 in. from each end.
Leave the cookies to rest for two hours at room temperature. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Beat the egg yolk with the milk and brush the tops of the cookies with this. Bake them for 20-25 minutes or until golden on the top.
** After a bit more research, I found the website Serious Eats and a recipe for Lavender Navettes. I haven't tried it yet, so I will wait to post it. The ingredients are in grams. Thank goodness I bought myself a new truc not long ago- a scale that measures in ounces and grams. It also used baking powder and only one egg instead of three. Tomorrow night's project...
Bon appétit, les Saintes Maries de la mer et les pêcheurs de la Méditerrannée!