For this pie, we will travel north to the municipality of Pithiviers in the Loire Valley region. This very traditional pie, baked for the Epiphany on the sixth of January, is also called ‘kings’ cake’ or galette des rois, referring to les rois mages, or the three wise men (kings). The galette is made of puff pastry and frangipane, a moist almond cream, and always contains a small ceramic figure called a fève (meaning broad bean, as this is what was originally used). The idea is that the person who finds the fève is then crowned king or queen for the day.
- Yield: 8 Servings
- 2 lb 4 oz (1 kg) cold Puff Pastry, 5 single turns
- 1 egg
- pinch of fine salt
- 7 oz (200 g) Almond Cream
- 3½ oz (100 g) Custard
- few drops of almond essence, to taste
- Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface until 5 mm (¼ in) thick. Remember to keep moving the dough and dust with extra flour when necessary so that it doesn’t stick to your work surface. Using a cake tin or dinner plate as a guide, cut out a 25 cm (10 in) circle for the base and a slightly larger 26 cm (10½ in) circle for the top. Place the pastry rounds on two baking trays lined with baking paper and freeze for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the frangipane, use a hand-held whisk to beat the almond cream and custard together until smooth, then add the almond essence and combine well. Be frugal with your almond essence, as it can overpower the main flavour of your dish.
- Preheat the oven to 185°C (365°F). To make an egg wash, lightly beat the egg and salt together in a small bowl and set aside. Remove the pastry from the freezer and spread the frangipane mixture onto the smaller circle, leaving a 3 cm (1¼ in) border around the edge. Gently push the fève into the frangipane. Lightly brush around the edge with egg wash, then place the larger pastry circle over the top and gently press around the edge to seal. Brush the top with egg wash, taking care not to drip any of the egg mixture over the side, because this will make it harder for the pastry to rise evenly. Using the back of a paring knife, score curved lines on the top, radiating from the centre to the outside edge.
- Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 40 minutes, or until the base of the pie is golden. Puff pastry needs to be cooked at a relatively high temperature for a long time to get the best height and flakiness. If you find the top is browning too quickly, cover loosely with a piece of foil and continue baking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve at room temperature, with a crown for the lucky finder of the fève.