The French galette is a very well established tradition in France. We bake it for Epiphany, on the 6th of January, and even though I now live in London, I like to keep the tradition going. Last year I baked a Pear and Almond galette, and I told you all about the French”Galette des Rois” tradition. I did a bit of research this year and I found out to my great surprise that the English also had a similar tradition back in the victorian period. So this year is all about my new version of the galette, Twelfth Night and why it was outlawed by Queen Victoria…
Twelfth night is the night just before the Epiphany and has been for centuries the traditional last day of the Christmas season. It was a time for having a great feast, and the cake was an essential part of it.
Twelfth Night Cakes were particularly popular during the Regency and Georgian eras (roughly 1750 to 1850). It was a plum cake, baked with spices and seasonal dried fruit and richly decorated with spectacular sugar figures and ornaments. The cake represented the gifts of the Wise Men,and the two gilded sugar crowns, symbolised the king and queen of the evening’s revels.
Here below is a picture of a traditional Twelfth Night Cake that I found on the blog Food History Jotting (which by the way I recommend to anyone interested in food history) It was different from the French galette, but the tradition is interestingly similar.
A dried Bean and a Pea were baked into the cake; one in one half and the other in the other half. As the visitors arrived, they were given a piece of the cake, ladies from the left, gentlemen from the right side. Whoever got the bean became King of the Revels for the night, and everyone had to do as he said. The lady was his Queen for the evening.
It is often said that Queen Victoria disapproved of this tradition and in the 1870’s, she outlawed the celebration of Twelfth Night as a day of reveling, fearing that celebrations had become too riotous and out of control.
The French are a well behaved people so no one had to ban the Galette and it is now a family-friendly tradition that marks the end of the Christmas festivities. The traditional galette is made wit Frangipane or almond cream. But I like to experiment a little with it. This year I flavoured it with hazelnuts and apples.
Ingredients (6): 1 block of all-butter puff pastry – 3 egg yolks (2 for the cream, 1 for the egg wash) – 50 g butter – 20 g hazelnut syrup – 30 g caster sugar – 50 g almond powder – 50 g hazelnut powder – 2 tbsp milk – 1/2 apple
Steps: A step-by-step recipe with pictures is available here.
1. Preheat he oven to 200 C. Divide your puff pastry dough into 2 dough rolls of similar sizes. Roll down the pastry into 2 equal circles. Leave on the side while you make the hazelnut cream.
2. To make the hazelnut cream, mix together energetically the butter, sugar, 2 egg yolks, almond and hazelnut powder. You can use an electric whisk to make it extra creamy. Pour the cream on one of the 2 circles. The cream needs to be the consistency of cake batter, so you can pour it onto the first circle of dough, but it stays in place.
3. Slice the apple into 2 mm thick slices, and dispose regularly on the cream.
4. Close the pie by laying down the second circle of dough on top of the cream and pear slices. Seal by pressing down the sides of the upper circle onto the bottom one with a fork. You want to make sure it is hermetically sealed, otherwise the cream will come out. Make a little whole in the middle to let the air escape.
5. Beat together the remaining egg yolk and milk to make and egg wash. Glaze the pie with egg wash, which will give it a nice golden colour as it bakes. Then decorate the cake using the point of a knife.
6. You can draw leaves or spirals, or criss-cross the top of the galette. The important thing is to be very light with your knife so as not to pierce the top layer of puff pastry. You also want to decorate the cake AFTER you applied the egg wash. It brings out the contrast in the decoration. If you apply your egg wash after you decorate the cake, the liquid will get stuck in the incisions you made with the knife and your decoration will be less visible.
7. Leave to bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until dark golden. Enjoy with your friends and family with a nice glass of fresh cider! I find this pie lovely but quite heavy so if you want to lighten it up a little, you can add more fruit compared to the cream.