Saturday, January 7, 2012

French Epiphany: Fail on the Galette des Rois cake.

A wonderful welcome back to French class from Christmas Break consisted of EXTRA CREDIT! Thank you KOP! (my French teacher, who is AWESOME). Our extra credit was to make Galette des Rois (cake of kings). The French/Mexican holiday is like a second Christmas or a French/Mexican Thanksgiving, only it's in January, January 6th (Twelfth Night of Christmas). It's a time for family to gather around the table, and to receive. The Galette des Rois is a pastry, usually made with almonds or fruit. A charm or coin is cooked into the 'cake' and if you get the slice with the charm in it, you are 'king' or 'queen' for the day and throw a party or do whatever the guests wish them to do. Before, around in 1774 and earlier, the French, Greek, Mexican, Italian...etc. who celebrated this Epiphany would stick a bean in the cake and who ever got the slice with the bean was 'king' for the day and had to buy the guests or just the people of the party/gathering drinks. Around 1870, they started putting charms and or porcelain figurines in the cake and the rules have changed around a bit as to whether you have to buy drinks for the party or not. The Galette des Rois isn't cake, it's a pastry (as I said above) made out of puff pastry and fruit, like a brioche and dried fruit. I didn't do very good research before I started. This week was so wacky and crazy that I didn't think about it at all. I jumped right in and ended up in a fail but I got the extra credit! We had the recipe, and we went to the store and bought the ingredients....the wrong ingredients. We got home, and I began my fail. I was excited about it, and I was ready to conquer this! 
The only wrong ingredients was the Filo Dough. It was supposed to be a frozen pie crust, like the dough. Filo dough is nothing like that. It's thin and papery. Almost the same texture as newspaper and when you tried to mold it, it would behave just like paper mache, only it would crumble in your hands. It was very hard to work with. Mom and I knew something wasn't right, but we figured the oven would fix our problems as it baked... maybe it would puff up. We didn't know! 
So I made the filling perfect. It was delicious and yummy. I made it was sugar, lemon zest and almond paste with butter and one egg. I first creamed the butter and sugar together with the electric hand mixer...
Then, added the lemon zest, egg and almond paste. The lemon zest is supposed to be rum, but we didn't have any rum in the house and the recipe said that lemon zest could be a substitute for the rum. 
I creamed this together to make the filling.
Now it was time to prepare the dough.... what a fail! We got out he filo dough, and opened it. Expecting something a bit different... we got these thin sheets of dough... I don't know if it was even dough but I'm pretty sure it was. It was pastry dough, but really, really thin!
It was hard to mold and sculpt. So, in pieces, mom and I had to put flatten it out on the pan...
We were laughing the whole time, wondering if this will even turn out! It was kind of a pain to make. It was an experience though. After the bottom layer of the 'dough' was on the pan, I poured the filling on the bottom later and smooshed the charm, I used an almond, into the filling....
Then it was time to put the top layer on. We were a little bit scared... I 'moistened' the edges with egg white, and put the dough on the top. It was hard! The filling was oozing everywhere and it didn't look pretty at all. I knew this wasn't going to turn out, but mom kept saying, "It needs to bake, it might look better when it's baked." I just agreed and wanted to get it over with. 
Here it is all covered up! All ready to be put in the oven to bake and hopefully it would surprise us.... no...
That is definitely not what happened. We opened the oven after the timer went off... and it looked the same, just a little browner.
Here it is in the oven...
Here it is out of the oven...
This is what it's supposed to look like...
I am of course going to try again! I am glad I still got the extra credit, but everybody else's that was brought in looked so much better than mine! People say that my cake was good and tasted good, and that's good, but I want it to look good too! I want it to look edible. I will try again! :)
Here are some recipes for the Galette des Rois:
http://www.easy-french-food.com/king-cake-recipe.html (basically the same recipe I followed, almost exact)
I will attempt this again and it will be beautiful! 

2 comments:

  1. How fun that you learned about Le Jour Des Rois in French class, that is also where I learned about it years ago. Fun little holiday, I always just make a regular cake since I can't eat tree nuts, I just did my post about this as well. :) Filo dough is what is used to make Baklava, and must be kept moist while working with it, it doesn't puff, it is more crispy, try some Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry from the freezer section and I bet your recipe will be perfect next time, Pepperidge Puff is yummy stuff. Your filling sounds good. I so wish we had French class out here, your class sounds like fun!

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  2. We were actually gonna grab the Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, but it was so expensive! We also thought about grabbing up the pie dough from the freezer section, like slabs of pie dough. But we bought filo dough... and I failed. But yes! I will definitely try it again with better dough or I might make the dough myself! French class it very fun!

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