Yesterday Future Husband and I were discussing food items. He said dinner “looked great” and I said something about how I was more concerned about how it tasted than how it looked and he said “well your food always looks good AND tastes good” (isn’t he just ever so sweet?). I replied that it wasn’t true, that sometimes my food looked ugly but tasted great anyway, to which he agreed.
The then followed with, “Or sometimes food looks great but it tastes AWFUL” to which I shot him a look and said “BUT NEVER MY FOOD OF COURSE!” where he caught himself and said “No, of course not your food. Never your food!”
No. Of course not my food. That would just be crazy.
Well this, my friends, falls into the middle category. Looks like the pastry equivalent of a melting burn victim but tastes like angel wings and unicorn glitter.
In fact, if I had to rate this cake on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is best, this cake gets a 2 on looks but on flavor… YOU GUYS the flavor… This flavor goes to 11.
Which is one more than ten.
Anyway, this was my attempt to make David Lebowitz’s galette de rois (aka: king cake).
The concept of king cake is thusly: You make a cake, you hide a “feve”. Your feve can be pretty much anything: a candy, a nut, a chocolate chip, or even a tiny toy… I recommend against the latter only because I am rarely eating at a speed at which choking is not already a hazard and I have no need to tempt my fate by including inedible objects in my baking. When cutting and serving your cake, HE WHO GETS THE FEVE RULES THE WORLD, or good luck, or fortune, or any variety of things depending on your region and the type of king cake you are enjoying. I’m not totally filled in on the whole history of king cake, I am much more knowledgeable about eating it.
As luck would have it, out of this whole cake the very first slice FH cut sliced right through the feve… which was extra alarming to him because he was (1) unaware of what king cake was (2) definitely unaware that there was anything hiding inside of it (3) afraid that I was trying to poison him.
After I reassured him that it was just a dried cherry and that it meant he could have been “the king” for the day had he been better at cutting things, we both had half of a feve. I think that means we are both half lucky for a year… or maybe 100% lucky for half of a year… I’m not really sure how this whole thing works. Maybe he canceled out all the luck by cutting right through the feve, that’s the more likely scenario.
Anyway, this cake was supposed to look like this:
It did not.
I could have cried and decided not to post it, or made a whole new one altogether, but having already consumed my weight in my “failed” king cake (and thoroughly enjoying it), I didn’t have it in me to make another one. Plus I was out of almond paste and the store always seems much farther when your belly is full of puff pastry and almonds.
Turns out all that filling that leaked out and baked on its own, that stuff is FREAKING DELICIOUS. In fact, I’ve been thinking about making a whole batch of the filling, spreading it out on a baking sheet, and baking the crap out of it because IT WAS THAT GOOD GUYS. Seriously. So good.
I’m sure it’s equally good (maybe even better) piled inside of the cake, as per Mr. Lebowitz’s picture above. My cake had much less filling (obviously, given the glorious almond paste puddle surrounding it) but was still irresistibly delicious, not to mention super easy to make… assuming that you can properly seal your edges unlike SOME PEOPLE. (/looks around)
The moral of the story (if there is one) is that sometimes when you’re baking things don’t always go to plan.Your caramel will burn, sugar will explode all over your kitchen, or your mug cake will overflow and fill your microwave with (delicious) cake batter.
These things happen.
And when they do… you have a choice. You have the choice to give up or to try again.
You also have the choice to eat the crap out of your “failed” item anyway and just accept that the baking gods are just not with you on that day.
So, without further adieu, here is the recipe for David Lebowit’z galette de rois. Remember to seal the edges very tightly. Or don’t, it’s up to you really.
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 pound (or 1 package) puff pastry, divided in two pieces, chilled
- 1 feve (an almond, dried fruit, piece of candy, the choice is yours!)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon milk
- Combine the almond flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the cubed butter and mix until it’s completely incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla and almond extracts. The mixture will be grainy, but that's ok. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On lightly floured surface, roll one piece of puff pastry into a circle or square about 9 1/2-inches wide. Using a cake pan or pot lid, trim the dough into neat circle.* Place the dough on the baking sheet.
- Cover the dough with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic film, then roll and trim the other piece of dough and lay it on top. Chill the dough for thirty minutes.
- Remove the dough and almond filling from the refrigerator. Remove the top layer of dough and parchment or plastic from pan so that there is only one circle of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet.
- Spread the almond filling over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch exposed border.
- Strategically place your chosen feve somewhere in the almond filling,
- Brush water generously around the exposed perimeter of the dough then place the other circle of dough on top and press down very firmly to seal the edges very well.**
- To bake the galette, preheat the oven to 375ºF and decorate the top of your galette as desired by slicing into, but not through, the galette to create a design.
- Stir together the egg yolk with the milk and brush it evenly over the top. Try to avoid getting the glaze on the sides of the galette, as it will prevent the pastry from rising at the edges.
- Use a paring knife to poke 5 holes in the top, to allow steam escape while baking.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the galette is browned on top and up the sides.***
- Remove from the oven and slide the galette off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. The galette will deflate as it cools, which is normal. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*As far as I can tell, trimming the cake into a circle serves no real purpose. Next time I think I will roll the pastry sheets into 9 to 10-inch squares and bake in a square shape (less wasted puff pastry!)
**Seal the edges VERY WELL. Like, Really well. David decorated his all pretty-like even
***During baking, if the galette puffs up too much, you may poke it once or twice again with a paring knife to release the steam.
[ Adapted from David Lebowitz ]