Hello! I know I have been showing up in small bursts and spurts. I must say I have been quite tardy lately. Blame it on my “go-slow-on-sugar-flour-and –butter-New Year resolution”. A slight change in the pleasurable pursuits of life can slow me down. We get so foolishly carried away by the bright lights and promise that a New Year brings, that we are ready to chuck it all and lead the life of a sage. How did I convince myself not to bake too much, when I am at my happiest and most charming after a rigorous baking session. Come February and the repercussions of a sugarless life has dawned on me and I hereby, officially kick food-related resolutions out the door and continue on my sweet journey. (LOL)
I have missed 2 Daring Bakers’ Challenges in a row. I have completed one challenge yesterday (Pithiviers) and the next one will be done next week in the form of my anniversary cake. I also have 2 meal recipes lined up. There! Now that I have committed myself in print there isn’t any going back.
The Gateaux Pithivier originated in the town of Pithivier in the Orleans section of France. It’s a beautiful wedding of pastry and Frangipane/frangipani or Crème d’amandes. The frangipane is almost like a fragrant orange scented marzipan, stuffed inside the fluffy pastry. (the Frangipani recipe is taken from the Daring Bakers’ December Challenge
Since I was short on time I used a Rough Puff Pastry instead of Puff Pastry. It is definitely a cheat’s version but I was happy with the end result. The pastry is scored with free hand S shapes on the top and on baking, the S fluff up into exaggerated curves giving the pie a glamorous look. The almond filling is not too sweet and marries well with the pastry. The scalloped edges which is the trademark of a Pithivier is such fun to do. Though mine wasn’t perfect it did the job.
By the time I got the Pithivier out of the oven I realized maybe what I missed dearly was not the sugar kick but the kick I get out of baking and the happy hormones it activates in my brain. So all in all it is back to a Happy, Tired but Sweet existence.
Rough Puff Pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
320 grms Butter, chilled and cut into cubes
120 ml chilled water
1/4 teaspoon salt
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in a little of the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together. Add a little more water if the dough feels dry and doesn’t clump together..
- Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.
- Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is the first fold. Give the dough a quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again – this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold (the pictures show the first and fifth folds).
- If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft or sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.
100 grms Almonds, blanched and toasted
75 grms sugar
2 large eggs
rind of 1 lemon/ orange, grated
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla essence
- Grind the almonds to a fine powder.
- Mix all the above ingredients until well blended
- Line a 6-7 inch bowl with cling film. there should be enough cling film hanging over the sides of the bowl to cover the frangipani mixture. pour the frangipani mixture into the bowl. Cover with the cling film and transfer to a flat plate. Leave in the fridge to chill (2 hours). I put it in the freezer for an hour until it was semi-set.
Assembling the Pithivier
Rough Puff Pastry
1 egg lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 220 C
- Cut the pastry dough into half and return one half to the fridge. On a lightly floured counter top roll out the dough into a 9 inch circle. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment. Brush egg on the inside of the edge
- Remove the frangipani mix from the fridge and lay it on the rolled out pastry circle. Return to the fridge.
- Roll out the other piece of pastry and lay it on top of the frangipani to cover the pastry. The edges should be aligned. Press down gently on the edges to seal.
- To make the scallops, push down on the edge of the pastry firmly with your fore finger to create an impression as seen in the pic below. Repeat this all over the circumference of the pastry circle.
- Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash. With a sharp knife make an S starting from the centre to the sides. You can freeze it at this stage to be baked later.
- Bake in a preheated 220 C oven for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 180 C and bake till golden brown (25-30 mins).
- Sprinkle sugar on the top and further bake at 220 C till it caramelises. This is optional. The pie can be served warm and keeps well in a airtight container on the counter for 2 days, after which it will need to be refrigerated.