Doesn’t this Galette des Rois look good? It tastes fab, too! But, was it worth the sweat?
2017 brought its fair share of fails in the kitchen. I’m an amateur home cook, not a professional chef or baker. That doesn’t mean I don’t stand behind what I post here. Quite the contrary. The recipes I publish are scripts I’ve usually tried a billion times already or recipes by pros that I’ve tweaked to my liking, always giving credit where credit is due. Of course, the reason I post things tends to be a rather personal one. I want to have my own online recipe collection that I can access easily. Same with the essays and lifestyle posts. If you enjoy them, too, or if you can share your own wealth of knowledge with me on how to tweak and improve, then, well, SSJ’s done its job and then some.
So, 2017’s top screw ups?
1. Bourbon Pecan Bundt Cake
This month, I tried to make a bourbon pecan bundt cake to bring to my friends’ holiday party, and, my God, what a mess! Too much batter caused the thing to rise too high and NOT to bake in the middle. Then, of course, I didn’t have enough time to cool it before I took it out of the pan, and the darn thing basically exploded all over me and the kitchen. I then tried to cover all this up with a sugar glaze in which I put way too much bourbon. In the end, I found some slices of the cake were just not cooked!! This is actaully a very tidy picture of the cake I did not take to the party. I ended up bringing a bottle of wine and Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos, because, those things will help you forget EVERYTHING ELSE! I think this is going to become my signature hostess gift!
2. Reconstituted Goji Berries for a Salad
I bought some goji berries that were super hard, so I tried to reconstitute them in some warm water for a salad of brussel sprouts I was testing. The salad I ended up making for Plenty the Magazine was the BOMB. But I made that with currants, not gojis! The salad with the goji’s however, was just AWFUL! Just don’t ever try to reconstitute gojis! Don’t!
3. 95% of Meringues
Aside from the tasty Malted Meringues I bashed and used on this year’s Bûche de Noel, I had almost no luck whatsoever with meringues in the kitchen this year. Over the summer, I burnt a pavlova to a crisp. And just before Christmas, I tried to make mint meringue mushrooms for a cake I was working on…a green puddle….I don’t think I have any pictures of those. But, it was heartbreaking… Dear 2018, I will promise to deep clean my beaters and bowls and buy farm-fresh eggs if you will give me back my meringue-abilities!
Now on to this Galette Des Rois
For New Year’s Eve, I decided I wanted to try to make a Galette des Rois for dessert. The Galette des Rois is a pastry typically served at Epiphany in France [January 6th or 12th Night] either as a puff pastry or a yeasted cake. Since I don’t tend to eat a lot of sugar between New Years and Valentine’s, I figured an early Galette might be welcome in the house. It’s a fun pastry. You bake a small ceramic fève [a baby or king] or an almond into your galette. [I bought a chocolate covered almond.] And, whoever receives the slice with the fève gets to choose their king or queen by presenting them with a paper crown. You can see this tradition in action in the movie The Umbrellas of Cherboug.
Now, I wasn’t even going to post this whole venture on SSJ, because I was just fooling around with existing recipes. I’d decided that I wanted to use David Lebovitz’s basic recipe for the filling and Dorie Greenspan’s construction and baking techniques as the basis for my Galette des Rois, but that I would add shimmer and spice with a cinnamon simple syrup glaze just after baking. And, this worked…
But, this galette set me on a wild goose chase! I didn’t want to make my own puff pastry, and the two recipes I was using for inspo call for all-butter pastry. So, I traipsed all over town on the morning of January 30th looking, in vain for all-butter puff. Usually, Manota’s in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market has it. But, they were sold out for the holidays. They told me they distributed some to Whole Foods, so I called up there and was assured they had the pastry in their freezer. Of course, when I got there, it turns out they didn’t have the Manota’s! Only frozen bags of puff pastry made by some other company that started with M, made with shortening! I then thought about going to Loblaws, but I discovered that even the butter puff made by President’s Choice is not 100% butter. It’s got added shortening too. So, I stuck with my Whole Paycheque all-shortening puff-pastry purchase. This was not how I wanted to spend yesterday morning…So, I got some booze to make paper plane cocktails later in the day! Great choice!
Letting my puff defrost in the fridge overnight, I got up this morning and was all ready to make my masterpiece. Now, David’s Leibovitz’s almond filling for the Galette des Rois is amazing. I mean, if I’d been smart, I would have just stopped with the filling! That’s right, dears, next time I make “Galette des Rois,” I might just make the almond cream [without the eggs — just doubling the rum] and eat it straight from the bowl. Or I’ll try spooning it into pretty cocktail glasses and serving it chilled. You can certainly hide a king cake baby in that. [That would be 1 cup almond meal, 1/2 cup soft butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 tbs rum, folks. And, no worries, it tastes nothing like marzipan which I find disgusting!]
Unfortunately, despite all of Dorie Greenspan’s ace tutelage re construction technique, I didn’t quite seal my galette properly, and some of the frangipane snuck out of my galette. No worries, though, I scraped it off with a burger flipper before I even took a picture for my instagram account 🙂 The galette was gorgeous, though. I put extra pastry hearts on top! And it was golden brown!
Then, to be fancy, I decided that I’d take the remainder of some cinnamon simple syrup I’d made as a gift for a friend and “glaze” the warm galette. Now, that was an amazing idea! And I’d do that again in a heartbeat.
So, here’s my finished galette! Was it perfect? No. Will it taste better with all-butter pastry? Absolutely. Will I make it again? If I’ve got the right stuff! But not until January 6th, 2019!
Galette Des Rois with Spiced Shimmer
A traditional French King Cake marrying David Lebovitz's Almond Cream with Dorie Greenspan's construction and baking techniques, with the added shimmer of my own Spiced Simple Syrup
- 1 package or 1 lb/500g puff pastry, preferably all-butter, chilled
- scant 1/2 cup butter, cubed and softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs, room temperature [1 whole, 1 divided, yolk reserved]
- 1 tbs rum [optional]
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Water to bind the pastry edges
- 1 tsp milk or water to mix with the reserved egg yolk [above] for decoration
- chocolate covered almond or a fève [ceramic charm]
- 1/4 cup [Spiced] Simple Syrup [below]
[Spiced] Simple Syrup yields at least 1.5 cups
- 1 cup brown [or white] sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4-5 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 3-4 cardamom pods, slightly bashed
Make the Simple Syrup
- In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring all of the syrup ingredients to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool completely.
- Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Prepare the Almond Filling
- In the bowl of mixer or by hand, combine the butter, salt, and sugar.
- Slowly add the almond flour.
- Add the 1 whole egg and additional 1 egg white.
- Add the rum and vanilla.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before constructing the galette.
Prepare the Galette
- Heat the oven to 425.
- Roll the pastry dough to 1/8 inch thickness or unfurl pre-rolled sheets of puff pastry.
- Using a circlet of parchment or wax paper or the base of a cake pan, cut two 9 1/2 inch circles of puff pastry.
- Line a cookie sheet or baking pan with parchment.
- Place one circlet on the centre of the pan.
- Leaving a 1-inch border clean, spread the almond filling evenly over the circlet.
- Moisten the un-filled border with water.
- Place the second circlet over the top of the filled base.
- Press around the border with your fingers to seal well.
Decorate the Galette and Prepare for Baking
- Scallop the edge: Press two fingers on edge of the galette. Then, with the back of a knife, scallop the edge by pulling in the dough between the two fingers by 1/2 inch. Do this around the circumference of the galette so the entire galette has a scalloped edge.
- Score the top: With the point of a small knife, decorate the top of the galette in any pattern you desire [windmills, checks, leaves] careful not to pierce through the dough.
- Glaze with Egg: Mix the remaining egg yolk with 1 tsp water or milk. With a pastry brush, cover the top of the galette, careful to avoid the border of scalloped edges.
- If desired, cut out additional puff-pastry shapes with cookie cutters and attached to galette with egg wash. Then, egg-wash over top.
- Vent the top: Cut 5-6 slits into the top to vent the galette.
Bake the Galette
- Place the galette in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 400.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until galette is puffy and golden.
- At the 20 minute mark, rotate the galette in the oven. Tent with foil if over-brown.
Glaze the Galette
- After removing the galette from the oven, brush liberally with cold simple syrup.
- Allow the galette to cool slightly.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
King Slice! There’s the Hidden Chocolate Almond!