A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
La galette des rois (kings' cake) is sold all over in France starting from 1st January until end of January to celebrate the Epiphany on January 6. There are traditionaly two versions - in the South, it is a brioche covered with sugar and some fruit paste while the northern part of the country, it is a richer pie made with frangipane (a sort of almond paste) filled puff-pastry. Besides the paper crown that comes with the cake, there is also a hidden porcelain figurine 'la fève' (a charm) in the paste and the person who finds it in their slice will be crowned king or queen for the day. Traditionally, to distribute the slices randomly, the youngest member of the family will go under the table and calls out the name of the person around the table whom she wants the next slice to be served until everyone has their slice on their plate. Then that's where the fun begins, everyone looking at each other wondering who got the lucky 'fève'... and chewing carefuly as not to end up at the dentist!
In Pierre's family, this tradition of slice distribution used to fall onto my sister-in-law until Little One was born. So when she turned 2½ years old last January, she took over that important role. Being a little chipmunk, the idea of going under the table and commanding who gets the first slice greatly appeals to her. That being said, she couldn't help and keep peeping out of the table just to make sure that we didn't cheat. Needless to say, she wants to be crowned PRINCESS of the day regardless who got the fève. LOL!
January has always been my special and favourite month of the year. Do you know why? Have a guess! But now there's another reason to like this month even more - I get to eat my favourite Galette des Rois through out the whole month. YEAH! Last year I made my very first attempted to make this galette and much to my surprise it was so easy to make. One simply can't go wrong except maybe if you are half as distracted as me while making it, in which case you'll ended up with a very brown galette (as shown in picture below). LOL!
Mmm... sorry to say that it tastes even better than the ones from the bakery. Yes, I'm conceited. I love the mixed taste of sweet mingled with just a tint of salt (salted butter!) and the almond flavour is just right with the crispy puff pastry... mmm... Simply yummilicious!
For those who have a very sweet tooth, do increase the quantity of sugar as sweetness of this recipe is just nice. If you don't have almond extract, you can replace it with vanilla essence.
Do you know that Mother's Day is celebrated on different days throughout the world? For example, Greece celebrates it on the 2nd February while Thailand celebrates it on the 12th August and Indonesia on 22nd December. I have always thought everyone everywhere celebrates Mother's Day on the 2nd Sunday of May (11 May 2008) like in Singapore. To my surprise, in France, Mother's Day is celebrated on the last Sunday of May. At first it was kinda strange for me to celebrate it 2 weeks later than Singapore but over the years I have gotten used to it.
Yesterday we celebrated Mother's Day in France. The weather was a bit cloudy but that didn't stop us from doing a BBQ on our terrace. The honey marinated chicken thighs (that I have specially prepared for Little One) turned out beautifully and delicious but to my utmost disappointment, Little One wanted nothing to do with it. *sigh* Oh well, her loss, our gain. Next time, I'm going to BBQ chicken wings ...yummy.
For Mother's Day, Little One got me a nice Lafuma recliner (via her papa) that I wanted so much for the coming summer days. Pierre wanted to buy a cake for me but I said 'why waste money when I can bake one for us.' I decided to take this opportunity to do another experiment. This is what I made yesterday and is part of my contribution to this month's Sugar High Friday host by Helen of Tartelette :
Creamy Chocolate Icing
Creamy Chocolate Icing
The cake itself is very aromatic - the delicious taste of orange and almond together. It is compact and just moist - not as dry as I thought it would turned out, and a bit crunchy when you hit on almonds. As for the icing, hmm ... not exactly to my taste - I find it a wee bit too creamy and buttery, however Pierre likes the contrast - slightly salty creamy icing with the sweetness of the cake. (salty because we always buy salted butter)
Ooops, I just realized that I didn't add the right quantity of dark chocolate in my icing. Perhaps that is why my icing tastes so creamy, buttery and salty.
I wanted to whip up 3 egg whites but I was clumsy in separating the first one so I ended up with 2 white eggs instead for my above cake.
If you want a more moist cake, perhaps you can add a bit more juice and adjust the baking time.
Yesterday I woke up with a super craving for a sinfully rich chocolate cake - you know the type that definitely choke up your artery kind - moist and slightly gooey. mmm So off I went browsing through my special chocolate cook books - there are so many to choose from but I fell in love with this one.
(taken from Le BA-ba du Chocolat)
Preparation: 20 minutes
Baking: 30 minutes
It's exactly what I craved for - rich, moist, sinfully chocolaty with crunchy almond bits. I like it as it is but Pierre felt that it would taste better if it is left in the oven for another 3 minutes or so.
No blanched almonds in the cabinet? No problem.
Pour boiling water over the almonds and soak them for 1 minute. Drain and rinse them with cold water. Pat them dry. To remove the skin, just squeeze the almond between your index finger and thumb and the skin should just come off easily.
I've been wanting to bake an apple pie with almond fillings for some time, but I couldn't find an apple pie recipe that would fit the bill in any of my books. So I decided to be a bit creative and modify an existing almond pie recipe. I started from a Bakewell tart, which combines an almond filling over a layer of jam. I replaced the jam with slices of apples instead and prayed for the thing to turn right.
What got me motivated to make the pie today was this month's Weekend Cookbook Challenge 19 - Dinner and a DVD. You have to cook something to match one of your favourite movies. In this case guess which one goes with the apple pie... ? Yup, the famous teen comedy American Pie, where the poor and innocent pie suffered a humiliating fate. While my recipe is far from the classical apple pie, I hope it'll satisfy all the apple-pie lovers out there... but it's probably better enjoyed eaten
(adapted from Bakewell tart recipe)
It turned out surprisingly good. While it's a bit short of sugar for Pierre, it was most appreciated by the rest of the family. The texture is moist and soft, and has a nice almond flavor which fits very well with the apples.
In my hurry to get the pie ready for dinner, I forgot to sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top of the apples as I had originally planned. And I would put more layer of apple slices (if thinly sliced) on the bottom and thicker slices on top.