By Andrew Parr
Holiday parties which don’t involve a big “sit down” meal are generally more successful when it comes to socializing. When you sit down at a big Thanksgiving-type meal, the focus has to be on the food. For some people, and hopefully the readers of this section, this would be a good thing. Others, however, would rather spend the time catching up with their friends, and would be content with just grabbing a little pig in a blanket. Some folks have managed to combine the two; they allow for a party’s food to be eaten casually, but still ensure that they keep some traditions and formalities alive. The recipe that I want to share is a good example of doing this.
Three Kings Day happens on January 6th and with it comes one tradition, concerning food. A cake is baked for the special day, and into it is baked a small button, bead or porcelain figurine. In France, the cake is called une Gallete des Rois. The style of cake does vary from culture to culture, but the one I have had personal experience with is the French one. I remember Mme Herbst, in sixth grade, taught me how to bake this cake, and I made it for my family that year. The cake serves as the basis for a game. Each person who cuts a piece of the cake is aiming to take the piece containing the bead or figure. This figure represents baby Jesus. Whoever gets the figure then must bake the cake the following year.
This is something I suggest doing with your families for a few reasons. First off, it’s something most people don’t know about, and it’s a nice tradition to get started. Second, there is the slight competitiveness that comes with the challenge of finding the figure. Of course, as I said, you don’t have to use a figure. You can use something as simple as a hard dry bean. Anything you can find!
Crust (1 or 2 cakes)
• 1 or 2 packages (17.3-ounce) store bought puff pastry sheets, if frozen thaw in refrigerator
Filling, enough for 2 galettes:
• 2 sticks soft butter
• 1 cup ground blanched almonds (crush them in a food processor or zip-lock bag)
• 4 tablespoons flour
• 3 eggs
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
• 1 pinch salt
• Powdered sugar, for dusting
• Egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water (for the egg wash)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all the ingredients for the filling until just until blended. On a floured cutting board, cut 2 circles the size of dinner plates out of the puff pastry. Put one of them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush one inch around the edge of the circle with egg wash (beaten egg yolk). Spread half of the filling onto the center. Now, put your bean or figurine onto the almond paste and place the second circle on top matching the edges of the circles. Press all around the edges to glue them together. Press softly in the center to evenly spread the filling. Don’t fill it so much that it bursts open – only put enough!
Crimp the edges of the two circles together with a fork. With the point of a knife, make a design on the top but be careful not to go all the way through the puff pastry. Brush the surface with egg wash, being careful no to get any on the sides.
Bake the galette in the 450 degree oven for 15 minutes and then lower the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. For the last 5 minutes, sprinkle with powdered sugar and bake until golden brown.