Tag Archives: French

Apple flamusse

Apple say what now?  Flamusse aux pommes is a Burgundian speciality.  Now, to be perfectly honest, I’m from a region right next to Burgundy and had never heard of a flamusse aux pommes until last weekend when I happened to be flicking through my trusty Larousse des desserts for ideas on how to make a slight apple surplus disappear.  Turns out that it’s effectively an apple clafoutis.

Apple flamusse 1

I added spices because A) I am pretty much incapable of baking without spices, particularly in winter, and B) it’s actually a crime not to pair apples with spices – I mean come on, apples are just crying out for cinnamon at the very least.  Since I’ve never eaten apple flamusse before, I’ve no idea how “traditional” this recipe is.  Frankly, I’m not particularly bothered because the results were marvellous, and it’s not my regional speciality that I’m messing with, so I’m not fiercely protective of it.  There was a terribly French, rather insouciant shrug happening whilst I wrote the latter part of that sentence.

Apple flamusse 2

AlphaBakesThis month’s special letter for the AlphaBakes challenge, which is being hosted by Caroline Makes, is “F.”  F for flamusse – how convenient!  That’s actually one of the reasons I ended up settling on this recipe – there are so many apple recipes out there that I was having a hard time choosing which one to try out.  It ended up being a rather excellent choice and came out scrumptiously delicious, provided you like flan-like textures (I know not everybody is into that sort of egginess).  Some rum-soaked raisins would no doubt make an excellent addition – I didn’t test that theory out as I didn’t think that would be quite appropriate for a Tuesday morning at the lab…

Apple flamusse 3

Apple flamusse

Serves 6-8
Adapted from Le Larousse des desserts

 

Pick a type of apple that will hold its shape when baking but isn’t too sweet – I used braeburns.  The flamusse can be served either warm or fully cooled, and will keep for a day or two.

Ingredients

4 apples (I used braeburn)
75g caster sugar
60g all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
500ml whole milk
Icing sugar, to serve

Directions

1.  Butter a 24cm round fluted tart tin.  Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C.

2.  Peel and core the apples and finely slice them.  Lay the slices in overlapping concentric rings in the tart tin.  I like to alternate the direction of the apple slices from ring to ring, but that’s just personal preference.

3.  Sift the sugar, flour, spices and salt into a large mixing bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together with a fork.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until completely smooth.  Stir in the milk a little at a time.

4.  Carefully pour the mixture over the apples (do this near the oven as the tin will be pretty full) and bake for about 45 mins until golden and cooked (if it looks really wibbly-wobbly, bake a little longer).  Allow to cool for 15-20 mins before turning out onto a plate (make sure you do it whilst the flamusse is still warm).  Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm or fully cooled.

Enjoy!

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Bleu-blanc-rouge pour le 14 juillet!

We had a potluck party last night to celebrate various happenings at the lab.  The original excuse was somebody being accepted into a PhD programme, but since one of my labmates recently handed in, we added that as a further excuse.  And then “oh, it’s French national day on Sunday?  Let’s celebrate that, too!”  So a Woohoo PhD/no more PhD/Bastille Day party.  Sacré bleu, what an excellent idea!

Macarons tricolores 1

As the lab’s bona fide French person, I wanted to do something relevant to Bastille Day, something French.  I was considering madeleines, a particular speciality of mine, and always a popular offering.  But then I realised that it’s been a while since I made macarons…  And then it hit me: I could make blue, white and red macarons like the French flag, aka macarons tricolores!  So one blue shell, a white filling and a red shell.  I think that qualifies as suitably French.

Macarons tricolores 2

I used a white chocolate ganache for the filling.  I was originally going to add Amaretto, but discovered that we didn’t have any, so I used Frangelico instead.  It was a delicious alternative.  I thought that making two batches of shells would be terribly time-consuming, but actually I was able to make the blue shells whilst the red shells were setting and they then set whilst the red shells were baking.  So actually it worked out rather well.  I didn’t work the blue batch for quite long enough which is why nearly all the blue shells ended up with nipples, which irritates my perfectionist side, but doesn’t affect the taste.

Macarons tricolores 3

The macarons were a hit and definitely a fun way to celebrate le 14 juillet (Bastille Day).  Everybody loved the whole French flag thing, as well as the taste (most important).  Now get your berets on* and have a marvellous 14 juillet.  Maybe even let off some fireworks (if that’s legal where you are).

Super keen French Mel

Yup, super keen French person, right here.  Cocorico!  (That wasn’t last night by the way, but a few weeks ago when France played the All Blacks at Eden Park.  France lost.  Quelle surprise.)

Macarons Tricolores

Makes about 80 small macarons (so about 160 shells of 1.5/2 cm diameter)
Macaron shell recipe based on Mad About Macarons!
Ganache recipe by Sharky Oven Gloves

Obviously making two colours of shells is totally optional, but it does make these macarons fun, and is actually not as time-consuming as you’d expect.  Make sure you leave these at least 24h before eating them, in order to allow the ganache to soak into the shells a bit.  They’re best stored in an airtight box in the fridge – just remember to bring them out at least 30mins before eating them, so that you can appreciate the flavour fully!

Ingredients

For the macaron shells:
150g room temperature egg whites
270g icing sugar
180g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
Red & blue food colouring paste or gel (optional)

For the ganache filling:
40g whipping cream (NZ: pure cream)
150g white chocolate
30g Frangelico or Amaretto

Directions

To make the macaron shells:
1.  Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.  Prepare two piping bags with plain round piping tips of the same size (if you only have one, you can wash it in between the two batches of shells, but make sure to dry it thoroughly).

2.  Split the egg whites evenly between two large mixing bowls.  If you can’t get it exactly evenly, adjust the proportions of all the other ingredients according to the weight of the egg whites.

3.  Blend half of the icing sugar (135g) and half of the ground almonds (90g) together (don’t skip this step!).  Sift them through a medium sieve into a bowl.  Sift them again if necessary.

4.  Make the French meringue by whisking the one of the bowls of egg whites into glossy firm peaks, gradually adding half the caster sugar (50g).  Add a few drops of the red food colouring gel to the mixture just before the end and mix well to get the shade of red that you wish.

5.  Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well.  Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture.  Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes.  The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.

6.  Transfer the mixture to one of the previously prepared piping bags and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 2cm in diameter).  Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round.  Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.

7.  Leave the shells to set for about 30 mins (this helps to produce the feet).  Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C.  When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.

8.  Whilst the red shells are setting, repeat steps 2-7 with the remaining shell ingredients, but this time add blue food colouring to make the batch of blue shells.

9.  Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10 mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3 mins longer).  Leave them to cool on the baking trays, and when they are completely cool, carefully remove them and pair one red and one blue shell up by size.

To make the ganache filling & assemble:
10.  Whilst the macarons are setting and cooking, make the ganache filling.  Heat the cream, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the chocolate (broken into pieces) and the Frangelico.  Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth (don’t let it boil or you will boil off the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?).  Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to thicken on the countertop (or in the fridge if absolutely necessary – if it’s taking too long or not setting).

11.  Once cool, use a teaspoon to deposit a dollop of ganache onto one shell of each pair. Then place the partner shell on top, and use a slight twisting motion to squash the shell down onto the filling.

12.  Leave in the fridge for at least 24h before serving (I know, it’s difficult! But so worth it!!)

Enjoy!

*I’m allowed to stereotype because I’m French.

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Langues de chat

The holidays are over and it’s time to get back into the swing of things.  I opted to start Monday morning off gently by cleaning out some tanks that we needed yesterday for moving eagle rays* – a necessary task, but one that didn’t require too much brain power.  Ideal for the first day back at the lab.  So we’re starting off gently on the blog, too, with a super simple recipe for a little French biscuit called langue de chat, which translates as “cat’s tongue.”  No cats are involved in this recipe, so nobody panic – the name derives from the supposed similarity in appearance between the biscuits and a cat’s tongue.

Totally look like cat's tongues, right…?

Now in France, langues de chat are fairly run-of-the-mill – you can buy a packet in any supermarket – but outwith France, they’re virtually impossible to find (and extortionately priced if you do).  My mum adores langues de chat but, living in Edinburgh, she doesn’t get to eat them terribly often, so when I happened across a recipe a few years ago, I set about making some as a surprise for her birthday.  I felt a bit silly because I’d never even thought to look for a recipe – like croissants, they’re so readily available that nobody bothers to make them.  Except that unlike croissants, they’re ridiculously easy and quick to make, and homemade langues de chat are infinitely better than their industrial counterparts (and also don’t contain any dubious ingredients like powdered egg whites and palm oil).

Little batons all ready for the oven…

My mum loved them, and now I make langues de chat from time to time as an accompaniment for desserts if I want to jazz them up a little – their characteristic pale centres and browned edges make them all pretty and presentable.  Incidentally, it’s this distinctive appearance that is the trickiest part of these biscuits, as it can be ruined by a few seconds too long in the oven, but taking them out too soon means that they won’t be fully baked.  Watching them like a hawk is recommended.

No prizes for guessing who didn't watch the first batch like a hawk… (The one on the right is from the first batch.)

Apologies for the quality, but see what I mean?  It’s also taken me a few years to get them looking close to perfect – the original recipe suggests using two teaspoons to form the little batons, but they inevitably end up a little wonky.  So this time I decided to try piping the batons and it worked much better.  They’re not perfectly uniform, but more importantly, they’re not wonky, so I’m happy with them (hence why they’re finally making an appearance on ze blog).  So what does one do with langues de chat?  They’re thin, dainty and a little crunchy, but not particularly filling, so they lend themselves well to any kind of accompanying-a-dessert situation – they’re good to serve with sorbets or ice creams, with desserts that would do well with a little added crunch (think poached fruit, chocolate mousse, etc.), or for dipping in syrups or chocolate fondues – or just something to nibble on with a cup of tea.

We hoovered up most of them before I got round to taking photos… These were the only ones left

Langues de chat

Makes about 35
Adapted from Guide de cuisine de l’Etudiant

The batter is incredibly straightforward to make, but the baking part can be a little tricky – keep an eye on them in the oven as a few seconds too long can result in the loss of their distinctive pale centres.  The quantities in this recipe make enough for about 2 or 3 people (because it’s impossible to have just one) with a little bit of snacking on the side, but can easily be scaled up to make more.  They go brilliantly with ice cream, poached fruit, chocolate fondue, or just on their own with a cup of tea.  They’ll keep in an airtight container for 2-3 days (they may start to lose their crunch a little after a couple of days).

Ingredients

4 knobs of unsalted butter (roughly walnut-sized)
2 heaped tbsp caster sugar
1 egg
3 heaped tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Directions

1.  Prepare a piping bag with a round tip of about 8mm in diameter.  Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan oven 170°C.  Lightly butter a couple of baking sheets.

2.  Only just melt the butter in a small heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Remove from the heat and add the sugar, whisking well until the mixture becomes pale and smooth.  Sift in the flour and mix well, followed by the egg and the vanilla extract, once again mixing until smooth (if the mixture becomes too liquid-y, add a little bit of flour).

3.  Transfer the mixture to the piping bag and pipe thin batons of about 3cm in length onto the baking trays, leaving enough space (about 2-3cm) between each so that they can spread out in the oven.  (Alternatively, you can use two teaspoons to form the batons, but this is a slower, more fiddly method and the biscuits may end up a little wonky.)

4.  Bake for 8-12 mins, making sure to keep an eye on them – only the edges should brown, the middle should stay pale.  (The batter will spread or flatten quite quickly at the start, but if the batter starts to spread too much and the biscuits run into each other, turn the temperature right up to make the batter “seize” and stop it spreading.  When they come out of the oven, cut them apart and return to the oven for about 3 mins so that the edges can dry properly.)

5.  Allow to cool fully on a wire rack before eating.

Enjoy!

*For anybody wondering why the heck I was moving eagle rays, an explanation will find its way into a future post.

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Queen Mel loses her crown

I know this is a little delayed, but Happy New Year!!  I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and an excellent New Years!  I had a wonderful time in France – we spent Christmas with my mum’s family and then I went up to Paris to see a friend for New Years.  So far 2012 seems to be going by just as quickly as 2011 – we’re already a week in!  How did that happen?  Yesterday was the 6th of January, which means that Christmas is now well and truly over, but it also means that nearly all of France tucked into a galette des rois to celebrate the Epiphany.  Nearly all of France, and probably quite a lot of the French expats scattered across the world, too.  My mum and I were no different.

There are countless different types of galette des rois, but probably the most well-known is the frangipane version, which is the one I made last year to introduce Kat and Craig to the tradition.  I happened to get the slice with the little porcelain fève or figurine and was crowned Queen Mel (I promise it wasn’t rigged – as the youngest, Craig allocated the slices, so I had nothing to do with it!).  Tradition dictates that the King/Queen is supposed to provide the galette des rois the following year so of course I made a galette this year, although I’d have made one anyway.  Since we were in France in the run-up to the Epiphany I wanted to find a fun fève to use in the galette (the one I have at the moment is a nondescript nativity figure, probably Joseph, which is a little boring considering the amazing diversity of fèves out there).  We had a look when we were shopping in Besançon and… found nothing.  So we asked one of my mum’s friends who knows where to find everything cooking-related and, well you know the little Ferrero-Rocher plastic boxes?  She pulled out one of those full of an assortment of fun fèves.  I know you think I’m exaggerating, so here’s some proof:

Impressive isn’t it?  She very kindly let me pick a few to take back with me, which totally solved the fun fève issue because I am now in possession of quite possibly the most amazing fève in the history of the world.  No really.  You’re dying to know, right?  (The correct answer is yes by the way.)  Ok.  Wait for it…

Considering the name of my blog, I highly doubt that there could be a fève more perfect for me, wouldn’t you agree?  I totally love it (in case you hadn’t guessed)!  Now it’s all very well having a brilliant fève, but you need a galette to bake it in.

This year, I decided to make a version from Franche-Comté, the region that I’m from.  It’s incredibly simple to make and uses a pastry called “goumeau” (which despite my best efforts, I cannot find a translation for), which is made in a similar way to choux pastry, but comes out denser.  That said, it doesn’t feel super heavy when eaten.  You may have guessed from the title that I didn’t get the fève this year – my mum did – but since you can do galettes des rois for the whole of January, perhaps I’ll win the crown back (you know, with the countless galettes des rois that we have access to here…).

Galette des rois Franc-Comtoise

Serves 6-8
From one of my mum’s friends

This galette Franc-Comtoise is also called “tarte au goumeau” and isn’t restricted to the Epiphany – it just doesn’t have the little porcelain fève in it the rest of the year.  When doing an internship in South Africa a few years ago my fellow interns requested that I make these galettes Franc-Comtoises several times a week (without the fève) to take out on the boats, because they travel really well (just slice them and wrap them in foil) and make excellent snacks.  Despite the limited cooking equipment and complete lack of scales or measuring cups, they still came out perfectly every time, so they really are super easy to make and the ingredients don’t have to be super precise!  They’re also pretty quick to make and use ingredients that are generally readily available, except perhaps orange blossom water, but this can be substituted with orange, lemon or vanilla extract.

Ingredients

250ml milk
80g butter
3 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp orange blossom water (or 2 tbsp orange, lemon or vanilla extract)
Pinch of salt
125g all-purpose flour
4 eggs
A porcelain fève (optional)

Directions

1.  Butter a 30cm cake tin.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Add the milk, butter, sugar, orange blossom water and salt to a large saucepan and bring to the boil on a low heat.  Immediately add all of the flour and stir until the mixture comes together into a ball which detaches from the saucepan (I usually use a spatula as it’s easier to get all of the mixture out of the saucepan later on).

3.  Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the eggs one at a time (the mixture will turn into a bit of a gloopy mess each time you add an egg, but it will come together).

4.  Transfer the mixture into the cake tin and evenly spread it right to the edges.  If using a fève, insert it into the mixture, and smooth the mixture over it so that it isn’t visible (add it near the outer edge to minimise the likelihood of slicing the galette over the fève).  Draw a pattern over the top with the prongs of a fork.

5.  Bake for 20-25 mins or until golden (the galette will puff up a lot in the middle, but this will fall when removed from the oven).  Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.

Enjoy!

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Cocorico, c’est le 14 juillet!

Today, le 14 juillet, is French national day (hurrah!), which I believe is referred to as “Bastille Day” in English.  This is obviously a day of national celebration, which means that large amounts of delicious food are involved, followed by fireworks where possible.  I had originally been planning to bake tricolore cakes or madeleines or something for today in celebration, but sadly one of my French great-aunts died on Tuesday and the funeral is tomorrow morning, so as this post publishes itself (I do like the scheduling feature in WordPress – awfully convenient) I should be located at an altitude of around 10,000m en route to France.  In a plane, might I add.  Which isn’t exactly the ideal place to go about baking cakes.

I was working in St Andrews over the summer last year, so to celebrate the 14 juillet (yes, I’m going to stubbornly write that in French throughout this post) I threw a small dinner party for the people I knew who still happened to be in St Andrews (with lots of help from Kat – thanks again Kat!!!).  Although only two of us were actually French, everybody else was a francophile and appreciative of good food, and I think I can say that we all had a great evening.  I hung up the string of French flags that I happened to be storing for French Society (I was President of the society, I didn’t just steal them, don’t worry), decorated the table with blue, white and red candles in little dishes, and set out blue, white and red napkins at each place.  Ok, so I was a little over-enthusiastic with the whole tricolore thing, but it was French national day, so whatever.  My back-up plan for today had been to share the recipe for the spiced lamb and chickpea stew that I’d made, but since this was pre-blog and therefore before I took 56 million photos of everything that I cook, it turns out that I unfortunately don’t have any photos of the stew.  In fact, the only photo that I seem to have is of one of the clips that I used to hold the three coloured napkins together on each plate.  I totally don’t play up to stereotypes whatsoever:

Afterwards, little frog clips mysteriously appeared in random places throughout the flat, and they were added to over the course of the summer.  I left them up as an amusing reminder of a delightful and relaxed summer evening (although anybody who came round and hadn’t been at the dinner party must have been somewhat confused by the profusion of tiny frog clips dotted around for no apparent reason).

So to conclude this slightly pointless ramble of a blog post, whether you are French or not, I hope you have a lovely 14 juillet, filled with lots of delicious food and pretty fireworks!!  (Although be careful with the fireworks bit if you’re doing them yourself.  Actually, I don’t even know if it’s legal to let off fireworks from one’s back garden in the UK.  Maybe.  Maybe not.)

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Pancake Day: The perfect occasion to end my crêpe drought!

Today is Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, the last day before the beginning of Lent…  Now, I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I don’t observe Lent in the slightest, but since Shrove Tuesday is all about over-indulging on good food, I’ll happily (enthusiastically, in fact) get involved!  I think it might be quite a British thing, but Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day.  Ya, that’s right, a whole day dedicated to pancakes.  According to the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia, this is because pancakes were (and still are) a great way to use up rich foods such as eggs, sugar and milk which were often avoided or used as little as possible during Lent.

A whole day dedicated to these - YES!

Now, I’ve been helping my mum make crêpes since I was about 5.  Well, by “helping,” what I really mean is just generally getting in the way and watching, but that’s the best way to learn!  For as long as I can remember my mum has had the same crêpe pans, bought in France and carted around the world with us.  By the time we moved to Norway (when I was 10), I’d progressed to actually being vaguely useful and was given the job of flipping the crêpes, which I was pretty good at.  Then one day it all went horribly wrong: instead of landing back in the pan, the crêpe I had just flipped landed on my wrist.  Ouch.  My automatic reaction was to drop the crêpe pan.  Crash bang boom, it hit the floor, and it has had a massive slight dent ever since.  Despite being dented, the pan was still perfectly usable (the crêpes always came out slightly uneven – they still tasted wonderful though) so my mum kept it.  Guess what she gave me when I moved to university?  Ya, that’s right, the dented crêpe pan.  She also very kindly bought me a snazzy non-dented Tefal one (it goes so much quicker with two pans!).

So what’s all this about a crêpe drought?  Well, this summer, a very unfortunate incident happened.  Let’s just say that it involved tuna steaks being fried (one might almost say burnt) in my little dented crêpe pan by somebody who was unaware that it was not a frying pan.  Needless to say, this didn’t go down so well (to put it mildly).  I know it might sound a little ridiculous, especially considering that it’s already dented, but because it’s one of the pans that I learnt to make crêpes in, I am deeply attached to it, and I’ve been slightly too scared (and still a little too angry) to test it in case it turned out to be completely ruined.  Thus ensued about six months of my life with a distinct lack of crêpes.  But I realised this weekend that I was going to have to face up to it eventually, so for the first time since the Tuna Incident, out came the crêpe pans!  The first couple came out with a slight fishy whiff, but after those it seems to be fine (thank goodness!).  Hurrah!  The crêpe drought is over!

So, back to Pancake Day – the possibilities are endless, but in celebration of my dented crêpe pan not being ruined, I thought I’d just share my basic crêpe recipe with you.  You need the basics to build on anyway, right?  This batter works with both savoury and sweet fillings (ham, cheese, jams, Nutella, honey, whipped cream and fruit, etc.) so be as imaginative as you like!  Aside from crêpes flambées, I think my favourite filling has to be the oh-so-tasty combination of lemon juice and sugar, which I realise is incredibly generic, but the flavours just work so well and it reminds me of my childhood.

Crêpes

Serves 2-3 people
Recipe from my mum

These crepes work with both savoury and sweet fillings, so you can easily make a whole meal out of them, and you can add anything you like to them. Any leftover crêpes can easily be frozen (though make sure you put either cling-film or baking paper between each crêpe), and once defrosted they can be stuffed and baked to make a lunch or light dinner.  Just a word of warning: the first and last crêpe usually always look pretty unpresentable.  Looks like you just have to eat them yourself – what a shame…

Ingredients

250g all-purpose flour
500ml milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp oil (rapeseed or vegetable oil) plus extra for the pan
Pinch of salt

Directions

1.  Add all the ingredients (it helps to sift the flour) to a large bowl and thoroughly combine using an electric whisk.

2.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.

3.  The batter will thicken a little in the fridge, so add 1-2 ladles of water (this depends on how long it sits in the fridge for – 1 hour is about 1 ladle of water, 2 hours requires about 1 ½ or 2 ladles) and stir well.

4.  Pour some oil into a little ramekin or dish, and using some kitchen roll, wipe oil across your crêpe pan and heat it over a low to medium heat.  Once the pan is hot, pour a ladle of crêpe batter (this will obviously depend on the diameter of your pan, you may need a little less, or a little more) into your pan and by twisting the pan, make sure that the batter covers the entire surface of the pan.

5.  Allow to cook a few minutes, and once the crêpe comes away from the pan and is golden on the underside, flip it and cook the other side for a few minutes.  You know it’s done when it has browned slightly.

6.  Either eat immediately, or put on a plate covered by a second plate to keep them warm before serving.

7.  Use the kitchen roll to lightly re-oil the crêpe pan, and make sure that the pan is hot again before adding the batter to make the next crêpe.

Enjoy with whatever toppings take your fancy!

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Henceforth I shall be known as: Queen Mel (OK, OK, just for one day)

To celebrate the Epiphany (when the Three Kings visited baby Jesus) in France we make a galette des rois, or “Kings’ cake.”  Hidden in the cake, there is a fève (a small porcelain figurine), and whoever gets it in their slice is crowned King or Queen for the day – this is known as the “drawing of the Kings.”  The Epiphany is the 6th of January, but you can get galettes des rois throughout January.

There are countless different types of galettes des rois – most regions have their own speciality versions (as with everything in France).  The best-known type of galette is probably the one made with frangipane and puff pastry, which I made this year for the first time (I usually make one of my regional versions, which is choux pastry-based).

In an attempt to make the drawing of the Kings as random as possible, the responsibility of assigning slices to people rests with the youngest person present.  I remember agonising over which slice I thought was most likely to contain the fève so that I could pick that one and be Queen.  I was usually wrong though.  To ensure the least amount of bias possible, some families make the youngest person sit under the table (so that they can’t see the galette) and yell out people’s names as slices are cut.

This year, I got the lucky slice, so I was crowned Queen Mel for the evening (coincidentally, at the roughly the same time, my blog reached 300 views – I would currently like to think of myself as Queen Mel of Spartaaaaa!  Or not.)  In thanks for being crowned, the King/Queen is supposed to provide next year’s galette des rois.  I think I’ll make a regional version next year, so keep your eyes peeled for that…

Frangipane galette des rois

Serves 6-8
Recipe slightly adapted from La Popote des potes.

If you’re a big frangipane fan, the quantity can be doubled for an even more creamy filling.  I cheated a little and used ready-made puff pastry (I just didn’t have the time to faff around and make it myself) – for this recipe, it’s easier to get block pastry rather than ready-rolled as it has to be split.  Of course, you can make galettes all year round – just leave out the fève!

Ingredients

60g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
60g ground almonds
1 egg
1 tsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp white rum
500g puff pastry
Tiny bit of milk
1 egg yolk
1 tsp icing sugar
1 porcelain fève (and a crown for the King/Queen to wear)

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper.

2.  To make the frangipane, melt the butter in a small saucepan and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Add the caster sugar and whisk to get a frothy mixture.  Add the ground almonds, the egg, the flour and the rum, and mix well until smooth.

3.  Split the puff pastry into two and roll out both halves into circles of the same size (make sure that the circles aren’t too big to fit onto your baking tray).  Spread one of the circles out onto the sheet of baking paper and prick it all over with a fork.  Spread the frangipane over the disk of pastry up to 1cm from the edge.  Push the fève into the frangipane (near the edge is best.  It helps if you can remember where it is so that when you slice the galette, you don’t end up trying to cut through it – just make sure you’re not picking who gets which slice or that would be unfair!)  Cover with the second pastry disk and pinch the edges of the two disks together, using a little bit of milk if necessary.

4.  Whisk the egg yolk with a drop of water and brush over the top of the galette.  (At this point, you can use a knife tip or a fork to trace patterns over the top and make it look pretty.)

5.  Bake in the oven for 40 mins.  5 mins before the end, lightly sprinkle some icing sugar over the top (using a tea strainer makes it much easier to control and even coverage), and return to the oven.  Serve warm (the galette will deflate when you cut it).

Enjoy!

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