Galettes des Rois

 

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We sing the song, and relish in raucously shouting the line “FIVE GOLD RINGS,” but many Australians would be surprised to learn that the classic Christmas carol “The 12 Days of Christmas” refers to the 12 days from Christmas Eve, not before it. What’s so special about the twelve days after? Well, this is the lead up a Christian holiday known as The Epiphany (6th January), which is still a public holiday in France and many other European countries.

Now, the French aren’t known for being particularly devout, but we do love a public holiday, and especially one with a special dish attached. For The Epiphany, it’s the “Galette” (or Gateau) des Rois, which translates to “Kings Cake”, in reference to the Three Wise Men who are believed to have visited the baby Jesus on this day.

I seriously doubt the Three Kings presented Jesus, along with their more famous gifts, a brioche-style, over-grown doughnut all those years ago, so I don’t quite know why we make “Galette Des Rois” in celebration of this event. What I do know is that it’s delicious and I’m sure Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus would have loved it as much then as I do today.

Galette des Rois are eaten from the 6th January until Mardi Gras (the Christian one marking the day before Lent fasting begins, as opposed to the Sydney version), and each one will often hide a little porcelain or plastic figurine somewhere in the dough. Whoever finds the figurine in their slice has certain privileges and responsibilities, which differ from country to country. Between countries there are also vastly different names and recipes for the Galette des Rois, even within France itself.

Today, I’ve chosen to share the recipe my Mum used to make for my brothers, and me, which is known as a “Gateau des Rois”.

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Ingredients:

  • 300g strong plain flour
  • 10g fresh yeast
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 6 pinch table salt
  • 100g mixed peels
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 170g unsalted butter (soft)
  • 2cl orange blossom water
  • 2cl dark rum
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 30g glace fruit
  • 30g orange marmalade
  • 20 pearl sugar
  • Tiny porcelain or plastic figurine of your choice (optional)

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Method:

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in an electric mixing bowl, like a Kitchen Aid for example. Mix the ingredients for a couple of minutes with the paddle attachment (the yeast can never be in direct contact with the salt as this would ‘kill’ it). Crumble the yeast and add it to the flour.
  2. Add the eggs, orange blossom water, rum, 80g of mixed peels and lemon zest and knead until you have a firm and elastic dough (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the soft butter a little bit at a time and knead for a further 5 minutes. The sides of the bowl should be clean and the dough should be quiet soft.
  4. Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest at room temperature for an hour or until it is doubled in size.
  5. “Knock back” the dough, that is, knead it for about 30 seconds and then cover it with cling film and place it in the fridge overnight.
  6. Place the dough on a floured surface and spread it using a rolling pin, just as you would do for normal dough. Fold it in 4 and repeat the process twice.
  7. Form a ball and place it on a flat baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Dip 2 of your finger in the flour and stick in the center of the dough all the way down to the tray to create a hole. Carefully widen the hole using your hands. Reform the dough so it has a circular shape (a bit like a giant doughnut!).
  8. Wrap a pastry cutter or a stainless steel ring a little bit smaller than the hole in greaseproof paper, and place it in the center. That way the hole won’t close as the dough proofs. If you want to place a figurine into your “Galette”, now if the time by simply pushing it into the dough. Make sure you let people know what they may find in their slice before they tuck in!
  9. Cover with cling film and leave to proof for 1 hour.
  10. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
  11. Brush the dough with egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 2 Tbsp water).
  12. Bake for 30 minutes. Then cover it with foil and bake for a further 15 minutes.
  13. Cool the “Galette” on a cooling rack until warm.
  14. Meanwhile, mix 2 tablespoon of marmalade with water and keep aside.
  15. Brush the “Galette” with the marmalade and sprinkle the pearl sugar and the remaining mixed peel on top.
  16. This delicious treat is now ready to eat for breakfast or for dessert. In French tradition, whoever finds the figurine in their slice has to make the next “Galette” to share!

 

Christmas Eve Dinner “à la Française”: Part 3

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Classic Bûche de Noël

Ingredients for the Génoise (sponge):

  •  4 eggs
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 125 g plain flour

Method:

  1.  Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (392 F ).
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until it triple in size. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  3. Sieve the flour. Slowly fold in the flour with the egg/sugar mix using a rubber spatula. Make sure you scrape the side and bottom of the bowl and that all the flour is mixed through.
  4. Line a flat baking tray with greaseproof paper and evenly spread the mixture on the tray.
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden on top. Once cooked put the sponge on a cooling rack and leave to cool.

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Ingredient for the “ Crème au Beurre” (butter cream):

  •  4 egg whites
  • 130 ml water
  • 400 g caster sugar
  • 440 unsalted butter

Method:

  1.  Put the sugar and water in a medium size saucepan and cook to 118 degrees Celsius (244.4 F).
  2. Start whisking the white on medium speed when the sugar reaches 110 degrees Celsius (230 F). When the sugar is ready, slowly poor it over the white and whisk on high speed until cooled down (almost room temperature).
  3. Add the butter little bit a the time while whisking, make sure the meringue has cooled down enough before you add the butter, otherwise it will split and turn into a soup!
  4. Once you’ve added the butter, whisk for a couple of minutes and keep aside.

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For the sugar syrup:

  •  200 g caster sugar
  • 200 ml water
  • 30 ml rum

Method:

  1. Bring the sugar, water and rum to the boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Place the sponge on the bench. Using a pastry brush slightly wet the sponge with the sugar syrup.
  3. Using a pallet knife evenly spread the “Crème au Beurre”. Sprinkle shaved coconut and finely grated white chocolate on top. Roll the sponge on itself, make sure you roll it tightly to avoid it from collapsing later on!
  4. Cut a piece of cardboard half the width of the “Bûche”, wrap it in foil and place it under the Christmas cake.
  5. Using a pallet knife evenly spread the “Crème au Beurre” on top and around the sponge.
  6. Take the Bûche out of the fridge 30 minutes before dessert time!

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With this delicious Christmas dessert I recommend a chateau Chateau “Coutet” Sauternes-Barsac 2006 available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au

 

Madeleine

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I often feel that much of the magic and romanticism surrounding French food lies in the mysterious origins of so many dishes. Factual histories become Chinese whispers, embellished and morphed along the way until each version has as many likelihoods and doubts as the next.

Madeleines are a perfect example of this, where the only thing we can be sure of is that they are truly scrumptious (and it’s probably also safe to say they were named after someone named Madeleine).

It’s accepted that these little cakes hail from the French town of Commercy, in the North of the Lorraine Region of France, and is now considered a speciality of the area. Beyond this, there is lots of conjecture on what the true origin of the Madeleine is.

One version claims that they were a family recipe, made by a cook named Madeleine, for her noble employer, Slanislaw L. Slanislaw’s daughter (and wife of Louis XV), Maria, shared them with the King who adored them and decided to name them after their maker. I like this version, but this doesn’t explain the unusual seashell shape, which is what makes this dessert so recognisable.

Another version, which is less romantic but explains the shape, poses that they were again made by and named after a cook called Madeleine, but this Madeleine was making them for pilgrims tracing the path through France to the final resting place of Saint-Jacques (St. James, the patron saint of Spain) whose symbol was the seashell.

While you’re mulling over your own thoughts on the matter, why not grab a coffee or tea and might I suggest adding the perfect petit-four to match – a Madeleine!

Madeleine:

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Ingredients:

  • 375 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs (medium size)
  • 250 ml full fat milk
  • 200 g unsalted butter
  • 500 plain flour
  • 15g baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla essence or 1 vanilla pod seeded
  • 50 g grated coconut
  • 1 orange zest

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Method:

  1.  Preheat the oven at 200-220 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a mixing bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, sugar, 50ml of milk and the vanilla, then add the coconut and orange zest.
  3. Sieve the flour and the baking powder.
  4. Slowly add the flour to the egg mix while mixing with a spatula.
  5. Once the flour is mixed through add the rest of the milk, and mix until the milk is incorporated.
  6. Add the warm melted butter and mix until combined.
  7. Lightly spray the Madeleine mould.
  8. With a spoon or a pipping bag place the mixture in the Madeleine mould and bake for 10 minutes. Take them out of the mould as soon as they come out of the oven and place them on a cooling rack.

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Serve the Madeleine warm for an afternoon tea or for an after dinner treat with a glass of Chateau Viranel “Gourmandise” available from www.airoldifinewines.com.au .

 

 

Cannelé de Bordeaux

1872

 

A Cannelé is a small French pastry with a soft, custard centre and a dark, caramelised crust. Modern versions are cooked using special moulds, ideally made from copper that are sort of a circular shape with a scallop-edge. This shape is widely thought to come from the fact that the word Cannelé in French is very similar to the word “cannelure” which translates to corrugation (think of a classic Aussie tin roof).

The origin of the Cannelé dates back to 1519 when nuns from a Bordeaux convent started to make cakes from flour they’d found on the quay, rhum from the islands and egg yolk left over from winemaking because they used egg white to purify the wine so they would have a lot of egg yolk left over in Bordeaux.

The dish, which is a specialty of the Bordeaux region of France, is made from eggs, sugar, milk and flour, and flavored with rum and vanilla. Today, cannelés are so popular that they can be even bought at Bordeaux McDonald’s!

As you might assume, Cannelés are often served for dessert but mini versions also make the perfect canapé to serve with champagne at a cocktail soirée.

This dish can be a challenging one to make, as put too much mix in the mold and you will get oddly shaped muffins instead of delicate fresh pastries, or put your oven at the wrong temperature and your caramel will go too far (charcoal Cannelé, anyone?). However, the crusty exterior texture and the almost unexpected soft, “vanillary” inner make it worth all the effort!

Ingredients:

  • 1L full cream milk
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 280g plain flour
  • 475g caster sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 10cL rum
  • 2 tbsps vanilla extract
  • 2 vanilla beans

1821                     1835                    1866

Method:

  • Add the milk, butter, rum, vanilla extract and vanilla beans (seeds removed and placed to the side) all to a medium saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Turn the gas off when it starts boiling and leave on the stove to infuse for 15 minutes.
  • In a mixing bowl add the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla seeds. Whisk the eggs and sugar until the mix become slightly white.
  • Reheat the milk mix in your saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to simmer, turn the gas off again to let it cool down just a little (the milk needs to be quite hot, but not boiling, when you pour it in as this will slightly cook the eggs, giving the Cannelés the perfect consistency)
  • Add about 1/5 of the liquid to the mixing bowl with the eggs and sugar, while whisking.
  • Whisk well, then add the flour, then whisk again and finally add the rest of the milk (by doing it this way you’ll avoid having lumps in the mix).
  • Leave the combined mixture to rest in the fridge for 24 hours.
  • While the mix is finishing its resting, grease the moulds with melted butter, put them upside down to get rid of excess butter, let it set and repeat the process one more time
  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius. The Cannelés have to be baked at 2 different temperatures. The cooking starts at a high temperature to caramelise the outside, then lower to cook the inside.
  • For a 5cm high cannelé mould, fill the mould with mixture up to the 4cm mark, and no more. Filling the Cannelé moulds precisely is critical to the success of the finished product.The cannelé mixture will rise in the first stage of the cooking process and if the mixture rises above the lip of the mould it will get stuck and you’ll end up with a “rustic” looking cannelé muffin instead.
  • Place the Cannelé into the oven and cook at 250 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes, then lower temperature to 200 degrees Celsius and cook for another 35 minutes.
  • Take the Cannelé out of the oven and unmould them straight away and place them on a cooling rack, leaving to rest for 2 hours before tasting.

Pain d’épices

 

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Pain d’épices was originally a sourdough bread without added leavening; it was left in a wooden trough to rest in a cool place for months, during which the honeyed rye flour experienced fermentation. When ready the dough was cooked in loaf moulds. The modern product usually rises with baking soda, or with baking powder, developed in the nineteenth century.

Because traditional pain d’épices is sweetened entirely with honey, honey merchants in France often stock loaves of it for sale. La Collective des Biscuits et Gâteaux de France reserves the name pain d’épices pur miel (French for: “pure honey spice bread”) for pain d’épices sweetened only with honey

 

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Pain d’épices :

Ingredients :

  • 500 g flour
  • 250 g honey
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 400 ml milk
  • 2 whole egg
  • 4 yolk (in total)
  • 4 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon bi carb soda
  • 4 tea spoon cinnamon powder
  • 2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 cloves (grounded)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 140 g melted butter

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Place flour, spices, baking powder and bi carb soda in a bowl• In a different bowl place the honey and sugar, warm up your milk and add it to the honey, whisk the until dissolve• Stir the flour mixture, then add the honey and milk mixture, whisked eggs and butter• Whisk vigorously until all the ingredient are well mixed.  Line the cake mould with grease proof paper then pour the mixture in a rectangle cake mould, and bake for 1 hour at 190 degree Celsius.