Bonne Année everyone. Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are now ready to embrace a new year.
If you are in France you may have experienced the New Year celebrations or la Saint-Sylvestre with the most wonderful foods and maybe some champagne and foie gras. This of course is how most people will have celebrated the New Year, perhaps not in such an elaborate way but a joyous and happy celebration with friends and family.
I must admit I love the old traditions best. I can remember my father opening the back door so as to let out the old year at the first stroke of midnight and then the door was locked to keep the luck in the home. On the last stroke, the front door was opened to let the New Year in.
Someone would bring a piece of coal and a piece of bread to ensure that we would not be without warmth and food for the New Year. It's a shame this doesn't seem to happen to the same extent any more but we continue to do this in our small way before toasting in the New Year.
In France the Christmas celebrations continue through to around January the 6th or the twelfth night. This is also known as Epiphany in the Christian religion and it is celebrated as a public holiday.
Epiphany is the celebration of when the three wise men visited the infant Jesus. The three wise men are also known as the three kings. This day in France is called Le Jour des Rois or the Day of Kings also referred to as Fête des Rois whereby everyone, young and old, celebrate with parties and a very special cake called Gallete des Rois, or Cake of Kings.
The cake is placed on the table, decorated with a crown and before it is cut, a child hides under the table to shout out who will get each piece of cake. Eventually as each person receives their piece of cake, the lucky one will find a charm which has been hidden in the cake. Originally it would have been a fava bean but nowadays it may be a charm or ceramic figure of some kind. The one to find the charm will be the king or queen for the day and wear the crown!
If you are in France for the New Year you will see this galette in every boulangerie for the period leading up to twelfth night. It is a delicious cake and has a sweet filling, again, depending on the region of France as the filling can vary from the sweet almond filling to one in the south of France containing crystallized fruits.
It is best served warm with a glass of champagne - fruit juice for the children of course!
If you would like to try and make this famous galette, here is a simple version where you can use readymade puff pastry. If you want to make your own puff pastry you will find the recipe at www.french-recipes-to-love.com/puff-pastry-recipe.html
I am sure you will be able to get some help from the kids to make the crown
and do a much better job than I did! Either way I'm sure you will love the cake and enjoy the celebrations.
Galette des Rois
For the Galette:
- 500g of puff pastry
- 12-15cl water
- 1 egg yolk
For the cream:
- 60g ground almonds
- 1 tablespoon of kirsch
- 60g caster sugar
- 60g butter, melted
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Crème fraîche
Pre-heat the oven at 200 C.
Mix the sugar with the ground almonds.
Add the beaten egg, the melted butter and the kirsch As you mix, if the cream becomes too thick, add a little crème fraiche.
Roll out the puff pastry and make two identical circles (a tea plate can be used for a guide) Spread the cream on the first pastry round and place your charm in the mixture to hide it.
Cover with the second pastry round and seal the edges with a little beaten egg.
Spread a mixture of egg yolk and water on the top with a brush. At this point try not to spread the mixture to the edges (you don't want it to ooze out as it is cooking).
Make few holes on the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until it has risen and is golden brown.