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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Galette des Rois, progress achieved!

A week has past since my last posting, mainly due to sickness. now with the sinus cold gone and the runny nose making its exit out of my system, i shall be posting more frequently.

I would like to start by announcing to the world that I have succeeded at making a "Galette des Rois". Since the beginning of January, I have had to make these "galettes" with the direction of my superior but still with a "trial and error" effect to it. I could not seem to seal almond paste inside two circles of puff pastry, not to save my life! This affair was of course very frustrating for me! I tend to want to succeed everything on the first try. Even when attending Cordon Bleu, I did not succeed this particular dessert. Basically, if not sealed properly, or, if there are any air bubbles in the "galette", the air inside rises the dough, unseals the "galette" and the filling runs out, burns, etc... needless to say, i was happy to have succeeded this one by my own. Here's a brief history of this simple dessert that I never could succeed.
"A celebration of Christ being visited by the Magi, the epiphany was set to January the 6th by Pope Julius II. Also known as le jour des Rois, this is the day when the three kings are traditionally added next to the crib. Over the years, this religious festival overlapped with pagan traditions that went back to the Roman Saturnalia.

From the Middle Ages, the epiphany has been celebrated with a special Twelfth Night cake: la galette des rois, literally the King's cake. The galette differed according to the regions: for example it was made of puff pastry in Paris, but made of brioche and shaped as a crown in Provence. Under Louis XIV, the Church considered this festival as a pagan celebration and as an excuse for indulgence, and it was subsequently banned. To get around this ban, it became la fête du bon voisinage (literally, 'neighbourly relations day'). This culinary tradition even survived the French Revolution when it became the ‘Gâteau de l’Êgalité (the equality cake), as Kings were not very popular in those years!

The cake contains a lucky charm (une fève) which originally was a bean, a symbol of fertility. Whoever found the charm in their slice of cake, became King or Queen and had to buy a round of drinks for all their companions. This sometimes resulted in stingy behaviour and to avoid buying a round of drinks, the potential King or Queen very often swallowed the bean! This is why towards the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, the lucky charm started being made of china. The charm can take any shape or form and can either be very plain or more sophisticated (glazed or handpainted). It sometimes represents a religious figure such as the baby Jesus, but it can be virtually anything. Little horseshoe shapes are popular as they are thought to bring luck. Although nowadays very often made of plastic, old-fashioned china charms are still used and they have become a collectable item.

The modern Galette des Rois is made of puff pastry and can be plain or filled with frangipane, an almond-flavoured paste. It is sold in all French bakeries and eating the galetteat the beginning of January is still a very popular tradition and an opportunity for families and friends to gather around the table. The youngest person in the room (usually a child) hides under the table and shouts out which guest each slice of cake should be given to. The person who finds the fève in their slice of galette becomes the King or Queen and is given a golden paper crown. The King or Queen then has to choose his Queen or her King, by dropping the lucky charm in their glass."
In conclusion; with no air bubbles, with it being sealed properly and a fair amount of luck it seems, it came out good (picture of it is above blog entry). There it is, in all its glory. Orders for these are no longer made after the month of January has passed (relieved? maybe...). Only to make room for the Valentines Day orders.

Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!


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