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.