While many, I am sure, just couldn’t wait to get the holiday decorations put away, if you are like me, I selfishly want to revel in the warmth of the holidays and the twinkling lights just a little bit longer. The hustle and bustle of getting ready for holidays, then the actual celebrations and finally the dreaded cleanup seemed rushed this year – and I didn’t even host. Maybe it is just me, but it wasn’t until the festivities were over that I was able to really relax. While I love all of my family’s holiday get-togethers, as we have grown larger in numbers, it is an undertaking to get everyone together, in coordinating outfits, and properly gifted. Clearly that is not the reason for the season, but I found myself wanting to start a tradition of my own, now that we are settled in to our “forever home,” to extend the holiday magic just a bit more. If Elf on the Shelf can be incorporated so quickly into mainstream holiday festivities, then why can’t I adopt a new holiday regale? I have settled on adopting a few age-old customs to start a new tradition.
Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, or Three Kings Day on Jan. 6 has long been a celebration day among Christians all over the world and is said to be the day that the wise men arrived at the manger bringing gifts to the baby Jesus. This celebration, rooted in hospitality as the Holy Family receives the wise men, varies all over the world. In some places, the night before the Three Kings Day is the time when children put out their socks or shoes to receive small treasure much like those exhibited on Christmas with Santa. In many places that celebration is accompanied with the slicing of the Three Kings Bread. When the bread is served, whomever gets the piece with the small figurine, toy or coin receives a designation of sorts. Depending upon where you are from, the “winner” may be the King or Queen for the day or may be asked to host the next celebration. Perhaps my new tradition will be to host the 12th Day of Christmas Celebration and the guest receiving the prize baked into my treat is required to stay and help me take down all of my Christmas decorations. Cheers to a holiday tradition that helps parents, right?
Below is a recipe for a King’s Cake that is a bit more advanced or see the second recipe if you need a gluten-free alternative and/or a somewhat less advanced option. The first recipe below mimics the type of cake traditional to South America whereas the second recipe is a French take on a Galette des Rois using puff pastry and almond pastry cream.
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup dried figs, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup candied orange peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup candied lemon peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup chopped candied cherries, plus more whole for garnish
- 2 tablespoons light rum
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, divided
In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water; stir to blend. Let stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes. Put all of the candied fruit in small bowl and drizzle the rum on top. Let stand for 15 minutes to 1 hour to infuse the flavor. In a small pot, warm the milk over medium heat. Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups flour, 2 eggs, yeast mixture, milk mixture, and the rum-soaked candied fruits, mixing very well until the dough gathers into a ball. If the dough is too wet. Add additional flour, a little at a time, if needed to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it's smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise for one hour. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface. Using your palms, roll the dough into a long rope. Shape the coil into a ring, sealing the ends together. Insert a little doll or coin into the bread from the bottom, if desired. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Carefully transfer the dough ring to the prepared baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash and brush the top of the bread. Decoratively garnish the top of the bread with more candied fruit and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Galette des Rois
- 1 box, 2 sheets prepared puff pastry dough (gf or regular)
- egg wash (1 egg + 1 T water)
- ½ cup sliced almonds for garnish
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- A uncooked bean or other bakeable trinket or charm
- Almond pastry cream - Frangipane
- 3 cups (680g) milk, whole preferred, divided
- 1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar*
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
- 1/4 cup (28g) cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (sub cup for cup gf flour)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons (57g) butter
- 1 can, 12.5 oz almond pastry filling
In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2.5 cups (568g) of the milk, the sugar, & salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and set aside.
Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour (GF or Regular), and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup (113g) cold milk in small mixing bowl. Once cold mixture is well mixed, slowly add (while whisking, 1/4th cup at a time) 1 cup of the sweetened hot milk mixture to temper the eggs in the in the cold milk mixture. Then add the tempered mixture slowly to the saucepan of milk while continuing to whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and you see the boiling bubbles reach the center of the saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in almond pie filling, vanilla extract, and all but 1T butter. Place in a refrigerator safe dish that can easily be covered with plastic wrap. Rub a piece of butter over the surface of the cream before toping with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the pastry cream so it doesn't develop a skin), then refrigerate until cool.
While cooling, use non-stick spray to cover the inside of an 11 inch tart pan or large pie plate. Gently stretch and/or shape puff pastry sheet to fill bottom and side of pan. Using a fork, “dock” or prick the base of pastry. Add cooled frangipane filling (without looking add your trinket or bean) and top with second sheet of puff pastry. Crimp edges around the edge of the pan. Using the egg wash, brush top and sprinkle with almonds. Bake approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until puff pastry is dark golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Garnish by dusting with powdered sugar.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value-Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through LLCC Community Education.
Cooking or food questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.