Sunday, January 15, 2012

La Nuit Des Rois

(Image from Patricia).

Epiphany or King’s Night is an excuse to make King Cake, an easier recipe than which you cannot find.

Ok, ignore the grammar structure of that first sentence. 

If you live in proximity to a decent French bakery, buy one.  Otherwise, take a flyer on this cake which is very rich, very sweet, and tricky to eat because of the bean.  But a snap, really, if you remember to keep the pastry cold.

1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
¼ cup almond paste
¼ cup white sugar
3 T softened butter
2 eggs
¼ cup all-purpose white flour
½ t vanilla extract
¼ t almond extract
Pinch salt
Confectioner’s sugar
Dried kidney bean or bean-shaped bead or charm (this is important).

Preheat the oven to 425⁰F. Blend the almond paste with a hand mixer or in the food processor with half the white sugar.  Add the butter and remaining sugar and beat until smooth, then beat in ONE egg, the extracts, flour and salt. 

Roll out one sheet of the puff pastry to about 10 inches.  Keep the pastry cold (keep it in the refrigerator if you aren’t working with it) and try not to handle it too much.  Use a plate or cake pan to trace a 10 inch circle on the dough using a small knife or a pizza cutter.  Place this first sheet of pastry on a well-oiled baking sheet (you can use butter instead of oil, I just find it very convenient to pour a little flavorless cooking oil onto a paper towel and then rub the baking sheet with it).

Repeat with the second sheet of pastry but stick this one back in the fridge.

Drop the almond filling onto the first pastry sheet and gently spread it out a bit, leaving a 1 ½ inch margin around the edges.  Insert the bean or charm into the filling.  Beat the second egg and spread a little around the bare margin.

Place the second pastry sheet on top and press down around the circumference to make a good seal.  Brush the top with the remaining egg.  Prick the top sheet of pastry in several places, like a pie crust, to vent steam while baking.

Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven.  Do not open the oven to peek before then or the puff pastry may collapse.  Remove from the oven and dust with confectioner’s sugar, then slide it back in for another  12-15 minutes or until the top is golden.  Allow to cool.

Cut in wedges.  Warn your guests about the bean – nobody wants a cracked molar.  Whoever finds it is the king or the queen and gets to boss everyone else around for the day.

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