Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bean in the cake

Did you grow up planting a bean in the cake? Or perhaps a coin, wrapped in tin foil? Was it for birthdays? Christmas? Some random Saint Day? What happened if you got the elusively baked bit in the cake? Did you get a prize? Was the coin/bean/figure the prize itself? Did you get to wear a silly hat? Were you granted luck, love, happiness? How long did it last - a day? a month? a  year? As long as the piece of cake in front of you?

Seriously. This bean in the cake thing pops up all over! I started thinking about it on January 6 - epiphany. In France all the bakeries bake galette des rois in honour of the three wise men who arrived at the baby Jesus' manger with very expensive and inappropriate gifts. Actually I think by the time they arrived he was meant to be a toddler but that would make a very complicated nativity scene so they just stick with the baby Jesus part. Anyways the tradition is that inside the lovely puff pastry almond cream tart is baked  a figurine and whoever gets the figure gets to wear the silly crown that is provided with the tart and gets to be king for a day.

All very cute and quaint, no?

Except this bean/figure/nut/whatever baked in a cake or tart shows up all over the place. Repeatedly. All sorts of random saints days are celebrated by making a cake (often heavy on nuts or dried fruits) and hiding a Thing inside for one lucky person. How peculiar. I thought it was very strange and sort of silly but then I realised my mom used to put coins wrapped in tin foil in my birthday cake. And I think I thought that was the neatest thing ever. (Don't worry I'm sure she washed the coins first) So maybe the whole thing isn't so peculiar. But I wonder where it started? I haven't been able to find that out so if anyone knows...

Galette des rois aren't at all difficult to make. Puff pastry and almond cream. I made a smallish one as I quite like them and I knew that if I made a big full sized one I would end up nibbling away at it sliver by sliver. Which I did anyways with the help of C and T, but at least it didn't start out as big...

There are a ton of recipes for the galette des rois flitting about on the internet. I used the one at Chocolate & Zucchini and used about a third of the filling for my slightly smaller circles of pastry. I did not eat the leftover filling from the bowl. No. I did not. Stop looking at me like that!

This is what I made. I was quite pleased with it.

Until I looked over at the counter. And I realise I had forgotten to put the god damned bean in it.

1 comment:

kristin said...

My mom used to wrap coins in foil and insert several into the cake. The prize was that you got to keep any quarters, dimes or nickels you found. Haven't thought about that in years! I think she stopped doing it by the time I was six or seven.