I did it! I overcame the slushy snow and cold temps, put aside my cozy jammies and blankets, and made my way to the supermarket to stock up on sugar. (That I forgot the butter and freezer bags is irrelevant; what’s important here is that I got sugar.) Why is this such a big feat, you wonder? Because this sugar was the key ingredient to my personal Mardi Gras celebration. Most years I am able to travel during Presidents’ Week, and most years I opt to go to Europe where Carnival is usually being celebrated with theatrical decor and tasty treats. This year marks the first in many that I will not be traveling, so if you can’t fly the girl to Venice (or New Orleans or Rio or France or Spain…), bring the kings cake to the girl. I looked up a lot of recipes. Many of them looked festive, bedecked in purple, green, and gold, but not as tasty as I was hoping to find. J remembered kings cakes as being dry and crumbly…not particularly appetizing. I had a vaguely similar recollection and was certain I could find one we liked more. I was right. The recipe I found is French, and the cake is decadent and delicious. This experiment included many firsts for me: kings cake, puff pastry, almond paste. In this house we have to
put the cork on the fork practice safety first, so we opted to leave the bean/baby out of the cake. And even with this precaution, there were a couple of other minor mishaps, including me forgetting that I neglected to bring my rolling pin with me when I moved, but a wine bottle solved that problem. And I put a little too much butter on the sheet pan which smoked up our kitchen (and left it smelling like burned butter, which in my world equals the smell of pancakes, so yum!), but otherwise everything was easier than I expected. I even had a little puff pastry left over for a future experiment. I think next time I’ll make them mini kings cakes – individual portions, since they didn’t slice neatly and thus didn’t present as pretty as I would have liked. I might also play around with adding fruit. I think cherries would add a lovely tartness against the sweetness of the cake. But for tonight, we’re just going to celebrate and eat cake!
Kings Cake or Galette de Rois
adapted from: http://www.bonjourparis.com/story/recipe-galette-rois-epiphany-cake/
- 1 package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup almond paste
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 dried bean (lima or kidney beans work well)
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Butter a large baking sheet (not dark metal).
- In a food processor, purée the almond paste, sugar, butter and pinch of salt until smooth.
- Add 1 egg, vanilla and almond extract, then purée until incorporated.
- Add the flour and pulse to mix it in.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out one sheet of the puff pastry into an 11.5 inch square.
- Invert an 11 inch pie plate onto the square and cut out a round shape by tracing the outline of the pie plate with the tip of a paring knife.
- Brush the flour from both sides of the round and place it on the buttered baking sheet. Put in the refrigerator to chill.
- Repeat the procedure with the second square of puff pastry, but leave it on the floured work surface.
- Beat the remaining egg and brush some of it on top of the second round. Score decoratively all over the top using the tip of a paring knife and make several small slits all the way through the pastry to create steam vents.
- Remove the first sheet from the refrigerator and brush some of the egg in a 1 inch border around the edge. Mound the almond cream in the center, spreading slightly.
- Bury the bean in the almond cream. Place the scored round on top and press the edges together.
- Bake the galette in the lower third of the oven for 13 to 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from oven and dust with the confectioner’s sugar.
- Place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and return galette to cook for an additional 12 to 15 minutes or until the edge is a deep golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.
Serve the galette warm. Make sure everybody knows about the bean before eating!