This is another example of the versatility of puff pastry dough. Once you have the dough, you can simply use it to enclose a sweet creamy filling, here frangipane, almond cream lightened with pastry cream. With some scoring work for garnish, it becomes an elegant dessert. Simple shape, classic flavors. If you want to vary it, add dried fruit or chocolate chips to the frangipane. Or enclose a bean or trinket in the filling to make it a proper galette des rois, or “kings’ cake.”
- Yield: 8 Servings
- Puff Pastry
- Egg Wash
- ¼ cup (65 g) Simple Syrup
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Lightly flour the work surface and a rolling pin. Lightly dust the top of the puff pastry and roll it outward from the center, flipping, fluffing, and rotating it and turning it over, adding only enough flour to the work surface, dough, and/or pin as necessary to prevent sticking. Roll the dough out to an 18-by-16- inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. Using a 9-inch vol-au-vent cutter or plate as a guide, cut the dough into two 9-inch rounds. Transfer the rounds to the sheet pan and chill in the refrigerator or freezer until cold.
- Gently press a 7-inch vol-au-vent cutter or plate into the center of one round to give it a 1 - inch border. Brush the border with egg wash. Place the frangipane in the pastry bag and, beginning in the center of the dough, pipe a spiral of frangipane out to the border. Pipe a second spiral of frangipane on top, beginning in the center and stopping ½ inch short of the edges of the bottom spiral. Line up an edge of the second pastry round with one edge of the bottom layer and carefully lay the round over the filling, letting the sides gently drape over the frangipane. Rub your palm in a circular motion over the top of the dough to soften it enough so it covers the filling and to work any air bubbles toward the outside.
- With your fingertips, press the edges of the dough, moving around the filling, to seal the top and bottom, leaving a small section of the dough unsealed, then gently press your fingertips over the top of the dough to move any air bubbles toward the opening. Finally, press your thumb around the bottom of the mound of filling to give it definition. Seal the final section of the rim.
- Using the tip of a paring knife, cut ¼- inch-deep diagonal slits every ½ inch around the edges of the dough. Brush the surface of the cake with egg wash. Freeze for 5 to 10 minutes, or refrigerate for about 20 minutes, until cold.
- Brush the Pithiviers again with egg wash. We like to score the top with a flower: score an elongated S, working from a far edge of the dough through the center, finishing on the opposite edge. Then, beginning at the same point, repeat in the opposite direction to form a figure 8. Repeat from the two opposite sides to form an X shape. Score the sections between each with a petal shape, for a total of 8 petals. Add additional scorings to the petals if desired. Using the tip of the knife, poke a hole in the center of the cake. Freeze for 5 to 10 minutes, or refrigerate for 20 minutes, or until cold and firm.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F (standard). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Using a cake lifter or a large spatula, transfer the cake to the lined sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back: as it bakes there may be one area that rises more than another; if this happens, gently press down on that area.
- Bake for 30 more minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 325°F and bake for 50 minutes, or until the surface is a rich golden brown.
- Set the sheet pan on a cooling rack and brush the top of the Pithiviers once with the simple syrup. Return to the oven for about 2 minutes to set the syrup. Cool completely on the rack.
- The Pithiviers is best the day it is baked.