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Galette des rois/Pithiviers


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I have some really specific questions that might make me look super neurotic, but I've been trying to perfect the galette des rois/Pithiviers recently and so have been really scrutinizing the technique. I was hoping if there's anyone who can actually answer these questions, it'd be the pastry chefs here. 

 

  1. In the interest of getting as high of a rise as possible, what thickness should the puff pastry be rolled to? I've seen 2-5mm thickness, and my intuition is that thicker layers rise more but the downside is that they take longer to cook through. Is that correct? 

  2. Is there an optimal baking temperature? I know the general theory is that puff pastry is best started in a hot oven then have the temperature dropped to not burn it, but I've cross-referenced with almost a dozen recipes and their temperatures are all over the place. Some start at 390-425F (200-220C) then lower it (either immediately after putting it in the oven, or after ~10 minutes), while I've seen others bake at 340-390F (170-200C) for the entire time. 

  3. About switching the filling between almond cream and frangipane (almond cream + pastry cream), can you just use the same amount of either? I've seen some sources say use about 67-70% the amount of frangipane as almond cream, e.g. 300g of almond cream can be replaced by around 200g of frangipane. However I'm not sure why you would need less frangipane than almond cream. If anything, since frangipane is just lightened almond cream, I figured an appropriate substitution ratio would be using more frangipane than the amount of almond cream. This also relates to my next question:

  4. Short of it leaking out, is there a downside of using more filling, e.g. does it negatively affect the rise? Some recipes seem to use a really conservative amount of filling, but I've found that sometimes the ratio of pastry:filling is high and makes it kinda dry. Ideally, I prefer the maximum amount of filling without compromising any other aspects of the pastry. 

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I've never made nor eaten one, but from my general experience with puff pastry:

The thinner you roll the dough, the thinner it will end up, but the amount of filling on top of it is more significant. The more filling, the less it can rise. Consider using thinner dough with a moderate amount of filling in order to get the ratio you want. Dryness can also be because of the puff pastry itself, if baked too long or made with too dry dough. I do suggest you start with an hot oven, and lower the heat only if it seems the pastry browns too quickly and might be done before the filling is fully baked. I understand that the filling is flourless, so this should not be an issue (since eggs set at quite a low temperature).

You can place the pastry on a preheated baking stone or sheet pan. This will help the bottom raise and push against the filling. Just check it mid bake to make sure the bottom doesn't burn.

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~ Shai N.

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@shain makes excellent puff pastry points. My question is the goal. Why is rise so important to you verus flavor. I love the elegant golden look of them and the sound when you first cut in. When warm there should be a perfume release.  I prefer a stronger almond flavor. 

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2 hours ago, heidih said:

@shain makes excellent puff pastry points. My question is the goal. Why is rise so important to you verus flavor. I love the elegant golden look of them and the sound when you first cut in. When warm there should be a perfume release.  I prefer a stronger almond flavor. 

When I've made them, the rise has unfortunately been quite poor, especially as what I love about its aesthetics is how high it puffs up. Of course it can be due to issues with making the puff pastry itself (though I've practiced a bit and read up quite a lot, so I feel like I'm doing it mostly correctly), but I want to make sure my method for everything else is right.

 

For reference, here are pictures of the most recent one I made, this time having tried inverse puff pastry for the first time. Filled with straight almond cream. Admittedly almond cream is of course a bit drier than frangipane, and the formula I was using was especially low on eggs/liquids, so changing that up could solve the dryness aspect I mentioned in my original post. 

 

Top:

291264024_IMG_20210107_2131191.thumb.jpg.8e72d3ba3becb2b2d26043f4ee275292.jpg

 

Height:

1204876812_IMG_20210107_2131511.thumb.jpg.e0bddea47b6eab3250be5d8aec3b8296.jpg

 

Interior:

1386566851_IMG_20210107_2134481.thumb.jpg.9ff6dbf43446f6a2d958943b2d804e4a.jpg

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Seems like you don't get much rise on top of the filling as well. The rise on the side is decent, so it might be that the filling is to blame. At what temperature is it when you construct the cake? Is it possible that it is too warm and cause the butter in the pastry to melt?

Also, to me this looks like plenty of filling, try to reduce it, maybe adding eggs is indeed what you need. You can also try using inverted syrup in it, which will produce a less dry/crumbly texture.

And maybe roll the crust less thin.

~ Shai N.

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12 hours ago, Cahoot said:

In the interest of getting as high of a rise as possible, what thickness should the puff pastry be rolled to? I've seen 2-5mm thickness, and my intuition is that thicker layers rise more but the downside is that they take longer to cook through. Is that correct? 

 

How much the puff pastry will rise depends on many factors, width is not the first. It depends on the shape of the piece of dough you are baking, if it was docked/scored or not, if it's in contact with a filling / something else. Besides that, don't expect a 4 mm thick pastry will rise the double of a 2 mm pastry, it will rise about 50% more. And don't expect a 8 mm pastry to rise more than a 4 mm one, it will rise less. The thickness should depend on the size of the galette you are making. Really small galettes (single serving) call for thin pastry (3 mm), big pieces call for thicker pastry (4 or 5 mm).

 

 

 

12 hours ago, Cahoot said:

Is there an optimal baking temperature? I know the general theory is that puff pastry is best started in a hot oven then have the temperature dropped to not burn it, but I've cross-referenced with almost a dozen recipes and their temperatures are all over the place. Some start at 390-425F (200-220C) then lower it (either immediately after putting it in the oven, or after ~10 minutes), while I've seen others bake at 340-390F (170-200C) for the entire time. 

 

With puff pastry you have 2 roads: or you give a huge kick from the start, or you bake it long enough to get it cooked through. To give a huge kick you need to bake it at 200-220°C, problem in this case is that the temperature is really high, so it will tend to burn the surface. If you are cooking thin pieces, then this is not a problem. For a galette des rois this is a problem, because the surface will start to burn before the puff pastry layers are completely baked, same for the filling. No matter what you do, you will alwats end up with a soggy unbaked bottom.

In this case it's better going for a medium temperature and long times. So go for 160°C and 40 minutes or more. Better using convection (fan running).

 

 

 

12 hours ago, Cahoot said:

About switching the filling between almond cream and frangipane (almond cream + pastry cream), can you just use the same amount of either? I've seen some sources say use about 67-70% the amount of frangipane as almond cream, e.g. 300g of almond cream can be replaced by around 200g of frangipane. However I'm not sure why you would need less frangipane than almond cream. If anything, since frangipane is just lightened almond cream, I figured an appropriate substitution ratio would be using more frangipane than the amount of almond cream.

 

Uhm, frangipane is a mixture of almond flour, butter, sugar and eggs. No pastry cream is involved, if you add pastry cream then it's not frangipane anymore.

Probably they say to use more filling if you add pastry cream just to get the same almond intensity. But if a source calls frangipane something with pastry cream then I would mark it as unreliable.

If you want a good almond taste then you need to use some bitter almonds. If you grind your own almond flour then you just need to use about 5% bitter almonds (remember to not eat them raw and to not exceed). If you use store bought almond flour, then add some bitter almond flavour (oil or extract). You can add amaretto liqueur too.

 

 

 

12 hours ago, Cahoot said:

Short of it leaking out, is there a downside of using more filling, e.g. does it negatively affect the rise? Some recipes seem to use a really conservative amount of filling, but I've found that sometimes the ratio of pastry:filling is high and makes it kinda dry. Ideally, I prefer the maximum amount of filling without compromising any other aspects of the pastry.

 

Too much filling will kill the baking of the bottom, and even the top if you don't bake it right.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Teo

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9 hours ago, Cahoot said:

For reference, here are pictures of the most recent one I made, this time having tried inverse puff pastry for the first time. Filled with straight almond cream. Admittedly almond cream is of course a bit drier than frangipane, and the formula I was using was especially low on eggs/liquids, so changing that up could solve the dryness aspect I mentioned in my original post. 

 

Judging from the photo the galette was underbaked.  Top and bottom layers are underbaked, that's a common problem for the bottom layer but not for the top.

The filling is too thick, it should be about half.

Next time you should reduce the filling to 50% of your current amount, then try baking it at 160°C convection. Much depends on your oven, your ideal temperature could be 150°C as well as 170°C. Baking times change from oven to oven as usual, if in doubt bake it 5 minutes more.

 

Remember that frangipane is cake-y, not custard-y.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Teo

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7 hours ago, shain said:

Seems like you don't get much rise on top of the filling as well. The rise on the side is decent, so it might be that the filling is to blame. At what temperature is it when you construct the cake? Is it possible that it is too warm and cause the butter in the pastry to melt?

Also, to me this looks like plenty of filling, try to reduce it, maybe adding eggs is indeed what you need. You can also try using inverted syrup in it, which will produce a less dry/crumbly texture.

And maybe roll the crust less thin.

I baked at 425°F (220°C) for 10 minutes, then 350°F (180°C) for 40 minutes. Something I should've mentioned before - there was a lot of butter that leaked out, which of course could've been a problem with that batch of puff pastry, but it's normally not an issue for me with puff pastry. 

 

For reference in case anyone cares, that picture was a 22 cm galette, with 300 g of almond cream in an 18 cm circle. Teo also advises using less filling so I'll do that. If you are interested in making one yourself, then I'll tell you it makes sense now why everyone makes galettes des rois (with frangipane filling) instead of Pithiviers (with almond cream filling) - straight almond cream is too cakey and dry to use as a filling by itself. Some additional fruit filling would definitely be necessary with a straight almond cream filling. 

 

 

@teonzo Thank you for your insights. For a 20 cm galette, I'll stick to 4 mm pastry thickness then, along with reducing the oven temperature and the amount of filling. 

 

About the frangipane terminology, I've always read that:

Almond cream (crème d'amande) = almond meal + butter + sugar + eggs, where usually the almond meal, butter, and sugar are roughly equal by weight, and the eggs can be 50-100% the weight of the almond meal. 

Frangipane = 2 parts almond cream to 1 part pastry cream (by weight), e.g. 100 g almond cream combined with 50 g pastry cream. Although many recipes I've seen for frangipane use a smaller ratio of pastry cream. 

 

According to Wayne Gisslen's Professional Baking: "The term frangipane is given to a variety of almond-flavored fillings. In classical French pastry, it generally refers to a filling consisting of two parts (by weight) Almond Cream Filling (see recipe) mixed with one part Pastry Cream (p. 263). Today, however, many almond filling formulas, such as the ones on page 196, are referred to as frangipane. Almond paste is widely used in place of powdered almonds." 

 

I also know that in the UK and here in North America, frangipane is usually used to refer to almond cream, but don't know about other countries. However at this point I've really gone off on a tangent haha. 

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Yeah, I think it’s a difference in terminology. What Italians call frangipane (almonds, butter, sugar, eggs), the French call crème d’amandes. Frangipane, in France, is a mixture of crème d’amandes and crème pâtissière. (Around a quarter to a third pastry cream). 

 

As I understand it, pithiviers should be filled with crème d’amandes, Galettes des Rios with frangipane. No doubt Madame Guillotine awaits anyone who fails to observe the rules! 😉

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We are about to make a one on Sunday. We don't have any experience with Galette des Rois yet but we've been doing some research about it. We've found this video which we think it's useful to understand the technique of Galette des Rois La galette des rois (à la frangipane) - YouTube Also, we think it's important to note that we haven't really seen recipes with puff pastry. The recipes usually call for inverted puff pastry, where layers of dough are encased in layers of butter.

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39 minutes ago, Pete Fred said:

Yeah, I think it’s a difference in terminology. What Italians call frangipane (almonds, butter, sugar, eggs), the French call crème d’amandes. Frangipane, in France, is a mixture of crème d’amandes and crème pâtissière. (Around a quarter to a third pastry cream). 

 

As I understand it, pithiviers should be filled with crème d’amandes, Galettes des Rios with frangipane. No doubt Madame Guillotine awaits anyone who fails to observe the rules! 😉

That's also how I've understood it. It's made even more confusing by the fact that I usually see pithiviers made with savoury fillings instead of sweet. But I'm a stickler for pedantic terminology and try to follow the rules even if no one else actually cares!

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3 hours ago, Pete Fred said:

Yeah, I think it’s a difference in terminology. What Italians call frangipane (almonds, butter, sugar, eggs), the French call crème d’amandes. Frangipane, in France, is a mixture of crème d’amandes and crème pâtissière. (Around a quarter to a third pastry cream). 

 

As I understand it, pithiviers should be filled with crème d’amandes, Galettes des Rios with frangipane. No doubt Madame Guillotine awaits anyone who fails to observe the rules! 😉

 

fwiw my ferangi patisserie book agrees with you and suggests 1/3 pastry cream to 2/3 almond cream. of course, then, they ignore that ratio in the actual recipe for the traditional version of the galette des rois:

 

50g room temp butter

50g sugar

40g egg 

10g whipping cream

50g almond flour

5g rum

25g pastry cream

vanilla to taste

 

this is for a cake that takes about a pound of puff pastry.

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4 hours ago, jimb0 said:

 

fwiw my ferangi patisserie book agrees with you and suggests 1/3 pastry cream to 2/3 almond cream. of course, then, they ignore that ratio in the actual recipe for the traditional version of the galette des rois:

 

50g room temp butter

50g sugar

40g egg 

10g whipping cream

50g almond flour

5g rum

25g pastry cream

vanilla to taste

 

this is for a cake that takes about a pound of puff pastry.

Ha while we're on the topic, one of my pet peeves with the Ferrandi book is how inconsistent they are with the formulas they use. For example, almond cream is used ten (10) times throughout the book (not counting almond-pistachio cream recipes where pistachio paste is added), and every single one uses a different ratio of ingredients, not even including different mixing methods too. The same is true for other base recipes like tart doughs, biscuits, pastry cream, etc. I get that the level 3 recipes are from famous pastry chefs, who may all have their own different formulas for almond cream, but it'd be less confusing if they standardized it to use the same base formulas for at least some of the recipes that use those components.

 

But to digress, that amount of frangipane (230 g total) is used for a 20 cm spiral, so it really does seem I used way too much filling when I used 300 g almond cream for a 16 cm spiral. 

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i have lots of problems with the ferrandi book (i like to call it the ferangi book), starting with the fact that it seems like nobody edited it. also, i don't know who reads a book across both pages horizontally like this before going up and down, it's very frustrating (and has a few tips that i think are just wrong; like putting boiling water in an oven to proof croissants?? all the butter just melts out in my experience. anyway i'm going off on a tangent as it's still an overall worthwhile book with a ton of technique and inspiration; i've learned a lot.

 

but yeah, i agree that i think the issue was just too much filling.

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I've always thought that the only difference between a sweet Pithiviers and a Galette des Rois was the fève... 

 

Interestingly, I was in the village of Pithiviers this summer. Turns out they are immensely proud of both the classic Pithiviers and this, the Pithiviers fondant:

 

IMG_20200801_090205351.thumb.jpg.894cbf5a81053f628e46c5ef97f1cbc7.jpg

 

Disappointingly, it's just an almond cake. Tasty, but nothing particularly special.

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1 minute ago, jmacnaughtan said:

I've always thought that the only difference between a sweet Pithiviers and a Galette des Rois was the fève... 

 

Interestingly, I was in the village of Pithiviers this summer. Turns out they are immensely proud of both the classic Pithiviers and this, the Pithiviers fondant:

 

IMG_20200801_090205351.thumb.jpg.894cbf5a81053f628e46c5ef97f1cbc7.jpg

 

Disappointingly, it's just an almond cake. Tasty, but nothing particularly special.

 

My apologies for veering wildly off-topic, I was just reminded of this.

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