Epiphany, January 6, is tomorrow. I checked with www.merriam-webster.com to get a definition of the word epiphany:
-the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi
-a Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus Christ
-a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way
-an illuminating discovery, realization or disclosure
Origins of the word: Middle English epiphanie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin epiphania, from Late Greek, plural, probably alteration of Greek epiphaneia appearance, manifestation, from epiphainein to manifest, from epi + phainein to show
In France, it is a great reason to have cake. Marie Antoinette and "Let them eat cake!" comes to mind. Although, according to historians, she really didn't say that. She probably said "Let them eat brioche!" According to Webster's New French Dictionary, une galette is one of three things: a butter biscuit (a cookie- the French do not eat our Southern-style biscuits), a buckwheat pancake (crêpe) or a Twelfth Night Cake. Un galet is a round smooth stone found on beaches or in vineyards in the south of France.
Last January, I gazed longingly at the Galette des Rois in the window of Pierre Herme's shop on Rue Bonaparte.
I didn't buy one, but I admired and photographed it.
I did buy one at Monoprix, though, and took it back to my hotel room.
They always come with paper crowns. And a little surprise baked inside. The figurines in the first photo found themselves enclosed in almond cream or brioche at one time. I've written about the two types of cakes before, but here they are again.
The first is a puff pastry and almond concoction popular in northern France, like the ones pictured above and the one I ate with Frenchie and his family last year.
The second is a brioche-type cake with candied fruit and pearl sugar on the top. The fruit is made in the south of France and is really good, not overly sweet like the candied fruit we have here. I had this slice at Mme P's house last year.
We saw some in the window of a bakery in Arles.
And also in the bakery in Pujaut where Mme P lives.
Today I decided to make my first galette des rois. Sister-in-law and her husband were visiting and I was happy to have extra taste-testers. I found a recipe on Camille Chevalier's website. I was very happy to find almond paste at Harris Teeter. I stuck in one of my little porcelain fèves that Mme P gave me and covered it up with almond cream before sealing up the edges.
It turned out very well! (My scoring on top looked suspiciously like a basketball at first...)
There is one more piece left... I think it will taste very good with a cup of tea as I do the weekly lesson plans. Back to school tomorrow. But only ten days until my trip to Paris and Pujaut. I solemnly swear to try more galettes and try to remember to photograph them first!
La Galette des Rois
1/4 c. almond paste
1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. flour
1 package (2) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
1 fève (dried bean or other small truc or do-dad that won't melt)
2 tsp. confectioners' sugar
- Preheat oven to 425˚F. Butter large baking sheet (not dark metal- I used a disposable foil pizza pan).
- In food processor, purée paste, sugar, butter and salt until smooth.
- Add one egg, vanilla and almond extracts and purée until incorporated.
- Add flour and pulse to mix in.
- On lightly floured surface, roll out one sheet of pastry into 11-1/2 inch square. Invert an 11-inch pie plate onto the square and cut out a round shape by tracing the outline with the tip of a paring knife. Brush off the flour and place it on the buttered baking sheet. Put in the refrigerator to chill.
- Repeat with the second square of pastry, but leave it on the floured surface.
- Beat the second egg and brush some of it on top of the second round. Score decoratively all over the top of using the tip of a paring knife. Make several slits all the way through the dough to create steam vents.
- Remove first sheet of pastry from the refrigerator and brush some of the egg in a l-inch border around the edge. Mound the almond cream in the center, spreading slightly. Bury the fève in the cream. Place second round on top and press edges together.
- Bake the galette in lower third of the oven for 13-15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from oven and dust with confectioners' sugar.
- Place rack in upper third of oven and return galette to cook for an additional 12-15 minutes or until edge is deep golden brown. Transfer to rack and cool slightly.
- Serve warm (it's good cold, too, though!). Don't forget to warn everyone about the fève!
Bon appétit and Happy New Year! Here's to many enlightening epiphanies in 2014!