Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnivale... Tuesday, February 9th, 2016. Growing up, the day before Ash Wednesday, or the start of the Lent Season, was the last day to completely stuff your face before you were to give up a guilty pleasure of your choosing until Easter Sunday.
Every year I swore I would give up dessert... HA! I crack myself up. I was not self-aware enough as a young whipper-snapper to know this is a virtually impossible feat for me. As an adult I have tried, way too many, "cleanses" to help me quit my sugar addiction. The cleanse usually goes great for a three days (definitely being generous to myself there), then I binge eat dessert-y items for a full three-meal day.
My name is Katie and I am a dessert addict.
Still, every Fat Tuesday as a child, I would convince myself to go for it. "This year is going to be different," I would say. "By-golly! It's time you really started to work on those six-pack, Britney Spears-rivaling abs I just know are hiding beneath your 'I ate an entire bag of Milano Cookies in one sitting' belly!" And every year, I wouldn't even make it to Friday before I was screaming in my head, "Who are you kidding, Katie?! You are weak! You love dessert. Cookies make you complete!" But...if no one sees you sneaking the Milano's in the pantry, it doesn't count right? Right?!? Yes, zero-calorie, zero-guilt cookies if nobody catches you. I believe my good Irish-Catholic guilt keeps my diet balanced and my feet running on the treadmill.
In New Orleans, and other places now, too, it is a Mardi Gras tradition to dig into a sugary delight known as a King Cake. Its a sweet, sticky, ring shaped cake usually dripping with green, yellow and purple icing. Hidden within its tempting dough-y folds lies a tiny plastic baby figurine. Finding that plastic baby in your piece of cake is not a reason to sue your host for for bad kitchen sanitation, but instead a reason to celebrate. Congratulations, it's a boy! And you are now deemed the King (or Queen) of the party. All the times I have indulged in the King Cake tradition, this prize usually includes a pat on the back. "You go Glen Coco!"
The American version of King Cake originates from a French tradition of Galette de Rois, served at the Feast of the Epiphany, or the 12th day of Christmas. I find this cake to be a little tastier, and a little classier. No babies in this cake! It's made of a puff pastry crust and delicious sweet almond filling. Traditionally, a bean (feve) was hidden within the cake as the crowning prize. Nowadays, you will more likely find a whole almond or piece of dried fruit. The top of the cake is scored with beautiful diagonal designs and painted with glistening egg wash. Truly a beautiful and elegant way to celebrate the beginning of [your failure] giving up your vice... This year will be different! I can give up the dessert!
Some quick tips before launching your galette into the oven. I use the frozen puff pastry. Feel free to make your own, you are a far more patient person than I, but, in my opinion, the store bought stuff is pretty reliable and much easier. If possible, go for the butter fat based pastry. The other stuff is a little tasteless. Also, when brushing on the glaze, keep it away from the sides of the galette. It will seal up the beautiful layers of the puff pastry and you will be disappointed with the lack of puff!
Best of luck with the Lenten fasting! I may try to go for the no café-bought coffee this year. Fatten up the pockets as I continue to fatten up the belly with dessert. Happy Eating!
Click here for Picture Guided Assembly: Galette de Rois
Bits and Bobs
1 lbs puff pastry dough, divided in two*butter pastry preferable*
For the frangipane cream filling:
½ cup sugar
3 ½ oz unsalted butter (just a touch over 7 T and almost a full stick), room temp
2 eggs, room temp
⅛ tsp almond extract
1 cup almond flour
For the pastry glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 tsp milk (any will do!)
For the filling, cream together the sugar and butter until smooth, light in color, and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating lightly after each addition, then mix in the almond extract. Mix in the almond flour and salt until combined. Stick in the fridge to set.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface, roll one half of the pastry into a circle, roughly 9-9 ½ inches. I used a dinner plate as my stencil to trim off the excess and make a nice neat circle. Place the round on the sheet pan and repeat with the second half. Place another piece of parchment between the two rounds and stick in the fridge to rest for ~30 minutes. **This is key, especially when using a butter puff pastry, to achieve the right puff.
For assembly, spread the filling onto one of the rounds, leaving roughly an inch of a dough border. Stick your “feve” (I used a whole almond) somewhere in the filling and brush the edges with water. Gently place the other round atop the filling, matching up the edges, then press to seal. I also like to gently press the top dough to rid of any lurking air pockets and even out the filling inside. ** If you are making this ahead of time (say to serve warm at brunch the next day…) you can chill overnight at this point.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Just like you would a pie crust, pinch the edges to make pretty. Then mark the top with any design of your choosing with a paring knife, careful not to cut through the dough. One of the traditional designs is similar to the spokes of a wheel, I personally like the chevron look. So trendy right now. Glaze the top of the dough with the yolk and milk mix, taking care to not glaze the edges/sides. Doing so will seal up the layers of pastry and potentially sabotage the puff.
Bake 30 minutes, or until the galette is brown on the top and sides.
Don’t worry if it deflates as it cools. This is normal. I promise… you succeeded!
Serve at room temp. I recommend storing a completely cooled galette, wrapped in plastic wrap on the counter, the fridge can potentially make it soggy.