One of my favorite ways to officially end the holiday season is with a French Three Kings cake, otherwise known as a galette des rois. The delicate treat consists of almond cream slathered between two layers of flaky pastry. It is eaten to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th, though it is available at French bakeries throughout the entire month.
Usually, a figurine (fève) is hidden inside the cake. Tradition says that the youngest person in the household gets under the table and says who gets which piece. The person who finds the figurine is crowned king or queen for the day. I am happy to say that this year I was crowned queen! And no, I didn’t cheat!
In the past, I always purchased my galette des rois from one of my favorite French bakers here in the Netherlands, Le Fournil de Sébastien, but this year I decided it was time to make my own. And it couldn’t be easier!
Here’s the recipe!
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Galette des Rois
- 100g butter, softened
- 100g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 100g almond flour
- 1 1/2 tsps almond extract
- 2 28cm circles of puff pastry
- 1 whisked egg
- 1 stone figurine, or whole almond
- 1 tsp apricot jam & 1 tsp water
Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Cream the butter and the sugar using a standing or hand-held mixer. Beat in the eggs one by one. Beat in the almond flour and almond extract. Place one of the pastry circles on the baking sheet and spread the almond cream over the surface, leaving a free edge. Don’t forget to place the figurine on the almond cream. Brush the whisked egg along the edge and cover with the second pastry circle. Seal the edges well with your fingers and then crimp. Brush the galette with beaten egg and place in the fridge for one hour. Preheat the oven to 200C. Remove the galette from the fridge, brush with egg again and carve a nice pattern on the pastry using the back of a knife. Make a few air holes in the pastry. Bake the galette for approximately 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 180C and give the galette an extra 20-25 minutes. Check after about half an hour to see if the galette is not browning too much and cover with foil if necessary. Whisk the jam and water and heat. Brush the cooled galette with the jam. Delicious with a glass of Champagne!
Last Saturday at the Hilversum market, hubby and I were tempted by the Souvenirs de France stand where they were roasting thick, beautiful sausages. When we asked what they were, the answer was ‘saucisson à l’ail’, a thick, smoked sausage somewhat similar to the Dutch ‘rookworst‘, though coarser in texture and generously flavored with garlic. We were assured, however, that the garlic would not be overpowering and that the smokiness would have the leading role. The sausage can be cooked and served in a multitude of ways: grilled, boiled, sliced and eaten cold as part of an apéro, or used in many dishes.
We had one sliced with a little mustard on Sunday night and it was absolutely delightful.
Yesterday I decided to use the second one in a warming lentil soup, and it was so, SO good! My daughter commented that the soup was somewhat similar to one of her favorite soups, the Dutch pea soup (erwtensoep). Though I am not quite sure I agree, what I can tell you is that I will be making this soup many times in these cold months ahead.
Here’s the recipe!
Oh, and feel free to substitute any other smoked sausage. But, if you’re in Hilversum, you may want to stop by the Souvenirs de France stand for more than just sausage. Beware though — you may leave with more than you intended! PS: Nope. Not sponsored. My opinion is never for sale. 🙂
Lentil soup with saucisson à l’ail
- 2 tbsps mild olive oil
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 1/2 tsps herbes de Provence
- 250g brown lentils, rinsed
- 1,2L strong, hot beef stock
- 1 smoked sausage, sliced
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pan and gently sauté the onions and garlic for 6 minutes. Add in the carrots and herbes de Provence and cook for another 6 minutes. Stir in the lentils. Pour in the hot beef stock, bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add in the sliced sausage and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the chopped parsley and serve.
A few years ago, a trend swept through France. Everyone (in the food blogging world, that is) was talking about the delectable ‘Gâteau Magique’, a cake very much deserving of that name because it truly is pure magic! Why, you ask? Well, because with one batter made with a few simple ingredients (which everyone probably has in their pantry right now), you can make a beautiful cake with three different textures! The bottom layer is dense and rich, pretty much like a flan. The second layer is smooth and velvety like custard, and the top layer is airy and spongy like a génoise. Together, the three layers form a smooth, creamy union — which, I warn you — is very hard to resist. Because the cake is so light, you may just be tempted to reach for seconds!
The cake is lightly scented with a touch of vanilla and not too sweet. Because of its simplicity, I highly recommend that you use the best ingredients.
It is said that the cake is a cousin of a traditional cake from the South-West of France (my favorite part of France, as you all know!) called ‘Gâteau Millasson’. The Gascon cake was originally made with cornflour, though there are a few very traditional French grannies who could care less and make it with normal flour!
The most important element of this cake is the slow cooking in a low-moderate oven. After baking, let the cake cool at room temperature and then refrigerate for at least half an hour. Serve the cake in all its naked beauty, with only the lightest dusting of powdered sugar. If you want, a few ripe red summer fruits on the side would also complement it well.
Note: you will need a round 26-cm Pyrex oven dish.
- 100g butter
- 4 medium eggs
- 150g powdered sugar
- ½ tsp pure vanilla seeds (or the seeds of one vanilla pod)
- 1 tbsp water
- 120g all-purpose flour
- 500ml whole milk
Preheat oven to 150C. Butter and flour a 26-cm round Pyrex dish. Melt the butter and leave to cool. Warm the milk. Separate the eggs, and in a large bowl lightly whisk the yolks with the powdered sugar, vanilla seeds and water. You don’t want to add volume, just make sure the mixture is nice and creamy. In another large bowl, preferably using an electric mixer, whisk the whites until soft peaks form. Pour the melted butter into the yolk mixture, whisking as you go. Then do the same with the flour. Pour a little of the warm milk into the mixture while whisking and then proceed to add the rest of the milk, whisking the entire time. Now fold in the egg whites in three batches. Do this until they are just combined. A smooth batter is not what you want, in fact, the mixture should look lumpy and somewhat curdled! Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature and refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!