Saturday, 4 January 2014

Week 46- Galette des Rois (and other pastries)

The 6th of January is Epiphany, the Feast of Kings. (When the magi came to give gifts to the infant Jesus). It's also the end of the Roman feasts of Saturnalia, and Twelth Night in the UK.

In France, it's the day when they eat a sweet confection of puff pastry and almond filling known as a Galette des Rois. Never ones to miss out on a good pudding when the opportunity arises, the French.

Hidden inside this pastry dessert is a feve (originally a broad bean, but now a little statuette or charm). Whoever finds the charm in their slice becomes king or queen for the day and wears a paper crown. Others in the household must do their bidding.

If they like, they can place the charm in the wine glass of another who can become their royal consort also for the day.

This year, I thought I would bake a galette for myself. (And I know where the little body is buried!)

So this week's blog is less adoration of the magi, and more adoration of the pastry.

I've made three courses, but with three different sorts of pastry or dough- so I wouldn't necessarily eat them as a menu, as that might be a carb too far.

First course is Peking duck with pancakes, main is Turkey and Leek Pie and dessert- well, it's the Galette des Rois of course. (See what I mean?) Heavy stuff.

The Galette uses puff pastry, the pie uses shortcrust pastry and the little duck pancakes use a simple flour, salt and hot water dough.

For the galette- I have cheated and used shop bought puff pastry. Most people do apparently, even chefs nowadays.

Cut out two circles from the pastry, using a dinner plate as your guide. Spread one with apricot jam., and place it on a well greased baking sheet or one lined with baking paper.
Spread with jam and frangipane filling

Next make the filling from 100g softened butter beaten with 100g of caster sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla essence, a teaspoon of almond essence,100g of ground almonds and 2 eggs (lightly beaten - save a tablespoon of egg for your egg wash) until light and creamy in colour. Spread the butter mixture over the jam (hide a charm inside if you want to) and place on the pastry lid.
Use a knife to 'knock' the edges of the pie and crimp the pie together according to your artistic skills. The important part is the decoration of the lid. Use a sharp knife to score patterns into the pastry- swirls, crescents, leaves, shells- whatever you can. The more ornate the better.

Brush with beaten egg for a good glaze - and bake at  190 degrees for 15-20 minutes until risen and deep golden in colour.
Galette des rois

Serve decorated with a crown.

More humble (but equally delicious in its own way) is my Turkey and Leek Pie. (This used up the last of the Christmas turkey and the bread sauce.) If you are baking it later in the year, use chicken if you prefer. I recommend the use of bread sauce in the filling though.

Here's how I make my sauce: 1 small onion finely chopped and softened in some oil, 2 cups of soft breadcrumbs, a good grating of nutmeg, 3 cloves, 1 teaspoon of mixed spice, 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper each, 1 tbsp of fresh parsley chopped fine and enough milk to mix.

Soften the onion in the pan, add the breadcrumbs, spices and seasonings and pour in milk until the mixture resembles thick porridge. Bring to the boil and add more milk as the bread swells and absorbs it. After a minute or two, turn off the heat and leave to infuse.

Now make your pastry shell. I like to make shortcrust pastry with half fat to flour- so 200g of plain flour, 100g of butter or marge, 1/2 tsp salt and cold water to mix.
Put the flour, salt and fat into the goblet of a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually trickle in some cold water until the mixture comes together and makes a ball. Turn out onto some cling film and put in the fridge to chill for half an hour minimum.

Meanwhile, soften a leek in some butter or oil.

Now take your chilled pastry, and line a flan dish with it. Cover with baking paper and baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes at 190 degrees, until just starting to colour.
Line a dish with pastry

Bake it blind

Mix the meat with the bread sauce and leeks
Mix the leeks with your leftover turkey or chicken, and coat with the bread sauce. Fill the pie shell with the filling and place on a pastry lid (rolled from the offcuts). Decorate as you wish and brush with milk or beaten egg.
Fill the pie shell

Bake at 180 degrees until crisp and golden.

Turkey and Leek Pie

Also leftover from Christmas I had half a duck. I had intended to serve it at Christmas dinner, but we had so much else it seemed excessive- so I chilled it, and the next day shredded the meat and froze it ready for pancakes.
Shredding involves separating the meat into shreds using two forks- you can do the same with turkey or pork. (If you want to use these with pancakes, just sprinkle with a little Chinese 5 spice powder and toss..every bit as good as duck.)

So, I've defrosted the duck shreds, shredded some spring onions and sliced some cucumber into thin batons- as well as pouring out individual dishes of hoi sin sauce. Now for the pancakes.

I used to trek over to the Chinese supermarket in search of these until I realized how easy they are to make yourself.

Put 100g of plain flour and 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl. Pour on a splash of hot water and mix in, add more until you have a soft dough.
Roll into a sausage
Rol out discs thinly
Turn out onto a floured board and roll into a sausage.
Cut 1 cm discs from the sausage then roll each one out as thinly as you possibly can.
You can fry these in a tiny bit of sesame oil if you want, or steam them.

Give each of your guests 4 pancakes, some duck, some sauce and some shredded veg.
Assemble as you wish.
Peking Duck with pancakes

I hope you enjoy my tale of three pastries- Happy New Year and take care in 2014!

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