I decided to embark upon a traditional French recipe – La Galette – created to celebrate the epiphany. For some reason the celebration seems to have extended throughout the whole of January (which has nothing to do with the delicious frangipane filling enclosed in scrumptiously flaky puff pastry I’m sure!).
Last year, when I lived in France as an au pair, we devoured one of these heavenly galettes every Wednesday déjeuner in January. A great midweek treat to see you through to the weekend. Hidden inside each galette is ‘une fève’, which directly translates as ‘a broad bean’, but actually a small trinket. The youngest child, Manon, would sit beneath the table and direct the allocation of the slices to ensure no bias was involved in their distribution – a job of paramount importance, as the person who discovers the fève in their slice is crowned king (albeit with a paper crown). I think the fève could tell I was a foreigner, because I was never coronated.
I didn’t hide a fève in my galette, giving the excuses of a student budget and the lack of a blessing from Buckingham Palace as my two main constraints. Nonetheless, my housemates at Barker House certainly enjoyed the galette, even in the absence of a crown.
I used Great British Bake-off Star Paul Hollywood’s recipe for the puff pastry , although good alternatives are available for those with time constraints in your local supermarché. To reassure those of you who don’t want to cheat, it’s a lot easier than it’s made out to be. Homemade puff pastry also freezes, so if you’re up for the challenge you can make a big batch and put half in the freezer, as there is something quite satisfying being able to say, ‘Yes I did make the pastry myself’. A word of warning though – this recipe is not for the feint-hearted as it uses a whole block of butter. Possibly not the best for a post-Christmas detox…someone remind me why the French are so skinny?
For the filling and assembly, I used a recipe taken from one of my favourite French blogs, ‘C’est ma fournée‘ Of course, I’ve adapted some of the quantities and also made one or two substitutions to put my own English stamp on it.
1.PUFF PASTRY (this makes double the amount you will actually need) (click here to skip to the filling)
150g chilled white strong bread flour
150g chilled plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 large free range eggs
100ml cold water
250g good quality chilled unsalted butter (Paul recommends Normandy butter, but if you can’t lay your hands on this in the corner shop, any brand will do)
Put the flours, salt, eggs and water into a mixing bowl and mix into an even dough with your fingers until it comes together. Take the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth. Shape it into a ball, then place in a plastic bag and chill in the fridge overnight, or at least 7 hours (I got up 20 minutes earlier and made mine before I went into university in the morning).
At least one hour before you are ready to use the dough, flatten the butter into a rectangle of about 40 x 19cm. The best way to do this is to firstly cut out a paper template and put it on the table. Then place a large sheet of cling film over the top, then the butter, then another sheet of cling film over the top of that. I used a combination of bashing and rolling with a rolling pin to achieve the rectangle shape. It’s quite important to get a neat rectangle, as this will help later on in the folding stage. When you’ve succeeded, wrap the sheet of butter in the cling film, and pop it back in the fridge to harden before you use it.
When the dough is ready to use, roll it out to a rectangle of about 60 x 20 cm. Again, it’s important to be as precise as possible here, as it will help to ensure an even distribution of butter. Take the sheet of butter out of the fridge and put it on the pastry so it covers the bottom two-thirds, doesn’t quite go to the edges. Fold the exposed pastry over so it covers the top half of the butter. Then fold the still exposed butter section back over the top. This makes a dough-butter-dough-butter-dough sandwich! Pinch the edges together and put back in the bag and leave to chill for an hour in the fridge to allow the butter to harden up again. This is important to create defined layers of dough and butter.
Take the dough out and place it with the short end towards you. Roll the pastry out to a similar size as before. Fold the top quarter down and the bottom quarter up so they meet in the middle. Then fold the dough in half along the middle crease. This is called a book turn. Chill again for an hour.
Finally, there are two ‘single turn’ steps, which is where the dough is folded in thirds, as in the first step with the butter. Perfectionist Paul says you should leave it to chill for an hour between these, but towards the end of the day I began to get a bit impatient, and only waited about 40 minutes. This didn’t seem to have a detrimental effect on the pastry! Once finished, chill overnight in the fridge. The pastry is FINALLY ready to use!
85g whole milk
1 egg yolk
10g caster sugar
5g corn flour
(The original recipe used 60g milk, 15g ‘crème “fleurette” entière’. As I didn’t know exactly what kind of cream this would be the equivalent of, and I also didn’t want to buy a whole pot of cream for just 15g, I used 85g of whole milk, which was fine.)
Measure out all the ingredients; the milk into a small saucepan and the other ingredients into a mixing bowl. Start heating the milk up on a medium heat on the hob. Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients with an electric whisk until they start to pale. Once the milk is ready, add half to the egg mixture whilst still mixing. Then add all the milk, mix briefly and return to the pan. Heat slowly over a low heat until the mixture has thickened. You want the consistency of custard, this should take about a minute. Cover with cling film (so the film touches the crème pâtissière) and refrigerate.
3. Almond Paste
65g ground almonds
75g caster sugar
10g corn flour
65g soft butter
40g egg (whisk an egg and only add 40g, but keep the rest for glazing later)
(10g rum – I didn’t have any so left this out)
Pinch of salt
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter (I used an electric whisk). Fold in the almonds, then corn flour, then salt and sugar. Next, fold in the egg (and the rum). The recipe says not to overwork the cream, but I didn’t read the recipe properly and whisked the first few ingredients – quite enthusiastically – with an electric whisk, which didn’t turn out too badly.
Fold in the cold crème pâtissière – now you have frangipane! Put the mixture into an icing bag with a tip of about 1cm and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
At this point, if you haven’t already, preheat the oven to 190ᵒC fan.
4. Sugar syrup
15 granulated (or caster) sugar
15g liquid glucose
(The original recipe made double the quantity, but I only used about half, so I’ve put the half quantities above)
Put all the ingredients in a pan and put on a medium heat without stirring until it starts to boil. Take it off the heat as soon as you see the first bubbles. Leave for later!
Cut the pastry in half, and put half in the freezer for another day. Divide what you have left in half, and roll out both halves big enough to make a circle of about 25cm diameter (I cut around a plate). Lay one half on a lined baking tray. Pipe the frangipane in a tight spiral starting from the middle, but stop when there is a 2-3cm border. Add the fève if you are using one. Dampen the border using a pastry brush, then put the second pastry circle over the top, making sure there is no trapped air. Pinch the edges together, then fold in the edges all the way around the circumference (the folded edges should be on top).
Next, put a sheet of baking paper over the top of the galette, then a second baking tray and flip the whole thing over so the top is now the bottom. It should look nice and neat now all the folded edges are underneath. Wash the whole top with plenty of beaten egg, then put the galette in the fridge. Now is the opportunity to clean up the inevitable bomb site of a kitchen.
Take the galette out of the fridge and egg wash it a second time (you will probably need to use a second egg). Then decorate by scoring the top with a knife.
Put the galette in the oven for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes are up, take the galette back out of the oven and cover the top in the sugar syrup. Put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
It should now be beautifully golden and shiny and ready to eat!
This was an EXCELLENT recipe (merci C’est Ma Fournée), it was one of the best galettes I’ve tasted, which was testified by my housemates. SO if you want a recipe to keep you nice and padded to see you through the winter months (particularly if you live in the cold north east) I can highly recommend this!