Losing my French Connection

This week is wine exam week so everyone is a little tense.  Including me, as for some reason, yesterday when my better half was testing me on wine regions, villages etc, I just COULDN’T get it right.  And I wouldn’t mind I’ve BEEN to some of them.  So due to that “little” issue ,the posts this week will be short, but sweet 🙂

Speaking of sweet, I made brioche dough tonight.  Yuminess in the fridge for tomorrow

Brioche dough ready for the fridge overnight
Brioche dough ready for the fridge overnight

We also made our puff pastry (“pâte feuilletée”) today, and with it I will make Gateau Pithivier tomorrow.  This use of puff pastry starts with a very French sounding “detrempe”, and now for the maths!! (Cause you know I LOVE MATHS!)

The number of layers in puff pastry is calculated with the equation:

l=(f + 1)^n

where l is the number of finished layers, f the number of folds, and n the number of times the dough has been folded. For example, folding twice (i.e. in three) for four times gives (2 + 1)^4 = 81 layers. Simples.  The great food writer Julia Child recommends 73 layers for regular pâte feuilletée and 729  layers for pâte feuilletée fine (in Volume II of her Mastering the Art of French Cooking textbook)

And to be fair this now sounds more complicated than it is.

Back to the gateau, which, is called gateau pithivier every day in France, except, as Darina told us, on January 6th, when it is known as the Galette des Rois (The Kings Cake).  This tradition is pre Christian, when a  man was chosen to be the “sacred king” for a year and then sacrificed to ensure a good harvest.  Thankfully the Christian interpretation isn’t quite so macabre for the consumer.

And unfortunately I have been unable to track down why there is a spiral decoration on the gateau.  More detective work is required I think.  I would appreciate any help!



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