This week, I decided to tackle a traditional French new year’s cake. Yes, I realise I’m a little late to the game (Hannah Lawrence made hers weeks ago…), but I was still in the festive mood and fancied something seasonal!
Overall, this was a fairly easy dish to translate. Once again the name posed a few issues as to whether to translate the name or leave it in the original French. I opted for both – I left the original French as a quick google search seemed to suggest that it was quite iconic, but I added my English translation (Kings’ Tart) in parentheses.
Once again this week, I was plagued by the issue of sugar. I have tackled icing sugar and its many names in my Stoemp recipe last week and a lack of precise detail about the type of sugar in my recipes for croissants. Unfortunately, there were no pictures this time to guide me as to what ‘sucre fin’ might be. I took an educated guess and plumped for caster sugar, as it tends to be a lot finer than granulated sugar and is more commonly used in cooking. However, I found this blog explaining the different types of sugar (in French) and am even more confused. My understand would be that ‘le sucre cristallisé blanc’ is granulated sugar, but it seems to suggest that you use this for all sweet recipes? Does anyone know? Let me know in the comments or contact me via email, on social media or through my contact page.
Here is a story about how I took translation a little too literally…the recipe called for a ‘fève’ which you hide within the cake and whoever gets the slice with the ‘fève’ in is king for the day. Seems simple enough. I’m sure I’ve heard similar tales where ‘fèves’ (or broad beans, hence fava bean in US English) are hidden in cakes. However, when I researched this further, I discovered that fèves, while originating from broad beans, are now actually small figurines, either made of plastic or porcelaine, specifically made to hide in galettes des rois! I, however, had already hidden my bean in my cake when I found this out…and sadly it was actually a butter bean as I couldn’t find any dried broad beans at my local health food shop! Fellow translators, please tell me I’m not the only one to have read a text too literally?!
As this recipe called for ready made puff pastry, it was super simple to make and surprisingly quick too. The only slight inconvenience was that the puff pastry I bought was rectangular rather than circular and wasn’t quite big enough to cover my tart tin and thus had to be patched up a bit. It held together and tasted fine though.
When it came to making the filling, it was super easy and straightforward. I was a little surprised upon tasting it that it wasn’t particularly sweet. It did, however, cause a debate between my family and I as to whether it was frangipiane or marzipan. I voted for frangipane, as to my mind, frangipane is less solid than marzipan, which is practically playdough-like in consistency. As this blogpost clarifies, frangipane is ‘a soft, spreadable cream’, whereas marzipan is ‘a pliable, clay-like substance, similar to fondant’ so I guess I am correct!
Et voilà! The resulting tart was a restounding success (as the fact that it was demolished within less than 24 hours attests to!)
Next week, I shall be attempting a British classic and seeing if the French take on it differs at all! As always, suggestions for recipes are most welcome.