Unsurprisingly this past week my reader has been filled with numerous posts entitled something along the lines of “2012 – a year in review”, including both top posts or favourite recipes of the past year as well as new year’s resolutions and tentative to do lists for the coming year.
While I have sat down a few times these past few weeks to come up with a list of resolutions or at least aspirations for 2013 I am struggling to put these into words. Like so many other things that are easier when you are younger, when you still had tangible and measurable goals like getting accepted at a good university, finishing your degree and getting a decent first job, a few years down the line, things get a little hazy.
I still have a lot to learn in my job (and succeeding at my job is certainly on my rough list of resolutions), but I am not sure how to judge any success – there are no longer any clear goalposts. Similarly, I want to be fitter again – 2012 was a tough year, both at work and personally, which left me with little time for personal things. Nonetheless, I did find the time to work on this blog and to prepare lots of delicious food. This year, I want to make better use of my time – find time for the blog but also to work out a few times a week and make more time for friends.
As for this blog, I plan on continuing to post in this little corner of the web, expand my repertoire and master new skills (and work my way through this list), work on my photography but also my writing and hopefully turn this little space into a place where you like to stop by, look up recipes, share your successes and failures or just join me as I daydream about yet another flavour combination.
Yesterday was Epiphany, in Italy a least, the last day of Christmas celebrations, a day children either get given carbone (black-coloured candy) or, if they have been well-behaved, candies and small presents (similar to the St Nikolaus celebrations on 6 December I grew up with in Germany). Many countries that celebrate Epiphany prepare special dishes do so – in France, the boulangeries, not just for Epiphany, but for most of January, sell Galette des Rois – a round cake made with puff pastry and filled with Creme d’Amandes or Frangipane.
As with many traditional dishes, various modern takes exist on the Galette des Rois – whether it’s a square shaped Galette, or a Galette filled with nutella or a fruit-based filling. As such, I did not feel too bad about adapting the traditional recipe and making a wholemeal spelt rough puff pastry base and, instead of the more traditional Creme d’Amande, filling my Galette with a Creme de Noix (a creamy paste made with walnuts instead of almonds). Also, I omitted inserting the traditional feve/charm in the Galette – mainly for want of a suitable object. But I actually quite like this tradition, so if I bake this Galette next year as well, I think I will insert a feve.
This was my first time making rough puff pastry and although at first I was not sure I was doing everything right, the Galette turned out beautifully. I followed the recipe from Michel Roux taken from this video. I highly recommend watching the short video – it certainly helped me understand I was on the right tracks even though at first it seemed the dough was too crumbly and would never come together.
Galette des Rois (makes one big Galette, ca. 30cm in diameter, with some leftover pastry for little tartes or mini strudel)
Wholemeal Spelt Rough Puff Pastry
Recipe adapted from Michel Roux
250g wholemeal spelt flour
250g ice cold butter, cut into 1cm long cubes
125g ice water
A pinch of salt
1. Mix the flour with the salt in a bowl and create a well in the middle.
2. Add the cubed butter and using both hands, work the butter into the flour by bringing more and more flour into the centre of the well.
3. Once the mixture looks crumbly and the pieces of butter are about the size of peas, gradually add the ice water. Without overworking the dough, mix the water into the flour-butter mix until you are able to shape the dough into a rough ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for ca 20 minutes. Don’t worry if there are still bits of butter visible in the dough – these are exactly what helps separate the different layers of dough in the oven to create the ‘puff’ you are looking for.
4. When the dough has had enough time to rest (it’s ready when it has the same consistency as the muscle underneath your thumb when you flex your thumb), place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 4×8 inch rectangle. With the long side in front of you, fold 1/3 of the dough into the middle and cover with the remaining 1/3 of the dough. Turn the dough by 90 degrees and repeat the same fold. Wrap the dough and place in the fridge for ca. 20 minutes. This is the first turn.
5. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and follow the same steps described under 4. above. This is the second turn. Place the dough in the fridge for 1 hour. The dough is now ready to be used.
Creme de Noix (Walnut Cream)
125g ground walnuts
125g soft butter
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon brandy
1. Place the ground walnuts, soft butter, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine,
2. Add the eggs one by one, pulsing to combine the mix before adding the second egg.
1 egg, mixed together (to be used as egg wash)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon hot water
1. Take the rough puff pastry out of the fridge and cut into two pieces. Roll out each piece to a circle slightly larger than 30cm in diameter.
2. Cut a circle of 30cm in diameter out of one of the pieces of dough and a circle of 28cm in diameter out of the second piece of dough.
3. Using a pastry brush, apply egg wash to the rim of the smaller circle.
4. Using a spoon or a pastry bag, put ca. 2/3 of the Creme de Noix in the centre of the smaller circle (you can use the leftover cream to fill tarts or as a filling for a strudel, or even to fill sticky buns). Flatten the mixture with the bag of a spoon.
5. Place the bigger circle on top of the smaller circle, gently press down to smooth out any air bubbles, and, using the back of the hand, gently press down around the edges of the Creme de Noix.
6. Using the blunt side of a knife mark a pattern on the Galette (a spiral is typical but I have also seen chevron like decor and more elaborate flower patterns). Brush the Galette with more egg wash being careful to not let any egg wash run off the sides of the Galette (as this could prevent the edge puffing up in the oven). Pierce the Galette four times to help the steam escape in the oven. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.
7. Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees. Bake the Galette for 35-40 minutes. While the Galette is still hot, quickly combine the powdered sugar and hot water and brush generously all over the Galette (this will give the Galette extra sheen). Let cool completely before tucking in.