Happy New Year and Bonne Année, mes amis.

January, Janvier, comes from the Latin Janaurius, the Roman god Januswho was the God of doors, but also appropriately for this time of year, God of beginnings and endings.

I’ve never been an enthusiastic resolution maker. I have an unfortunate character trait, in that if I’m told that I have to do something, even by myself, I generally want to run, mentally if not physically, in the opposite direction.

Why that is, I have no idea. As soon as any whiff of obligation raises it’s ugly head, I’m off with the fairies, who are far more fun. However, as there is nothing to do in my tiny garden at the moment, I have embarked on a cleaning and clearing program until the Spring. One draw or cupboard a day, during the week, is proving quite manageable.

I wonder what these short days, in the northern hemisphere, inspire you to do?

Do tell in the comments below…

A Traditional Recipe.

The feast of Epiphany in Catholic countries takes place on the 6th January and commemorates the arrival of the three wise men, at the crib of baby Jesus.

A figurine, la fève, which can represent anything from a car to a cartoon character, is hidden in the cake and the person who finds the trinket in his or her slice becomes king for the day and will have to offer the next cake. Originally, la fève was literally a broad bean (fève), but it was replaced in 1870 by a variety of figurines out of porcelain or clay.

A paper crown is included with the cake to crown the “king” who finds the fève in their piece of cake. To ensure a random distribution of the cake shares, it is traditional for the youngest person to place him- or herself under the table and name the recipient of the share which is indicated by the person in charge of the service.

Three versions exist: in northern France, Quebec, and Belgium the cake called galette des rois in French or Koningentaart in Flemish/Dutch (which can be either circular or rectangular) consists of flaky puff pastry layers with a dense center of frangipane or apple. In the west of France a sablé galette is made, a form of sweetcrust pastry.

In southern France, the cake called gâteau des rois or royaume, is a brioche with candied fruits and sugar in the shape and colours of a crown.

The following is my recipe for this delightful filling and can be used with any recipe that calls for a frangipanefilling. 

Oven temp: 180° C for 45 mins.

Ingredients:

2 circles of all butter flaky pastry.

140g finely ground whole almonds 

75g unsalted butter, softened

100 g granulated sugar

2  large organic eggs

I sometimes add the grated zest of a lemon or clementine.

 

Method:

1. Beat the softened butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

2. Add the ground almonds and beat on medium speed until blended.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and add the 3 tablespoons of flour and the salt.

5. Beat on low speed until just incorporated, approximately 1 minute.

6. Place one round of pastry in a parchment/baking paper lined pie or tart tin and spread the frangipane evenly.

7. Add your fève near the outer edge. You can use a clean coin, if you do not have a figurine.

8. Place the second circle of pastry on top, press the sides with a fork, trim if necessary.

9. Score the top of the galette and brush with a little milk.

10. Cook in the oven until golden, about 45 minutes.

The frangipane can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to a week.

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