Tag Archives: celebration

A brioche fit for the Kings

Monday is the Epiphany, the arrival of the Kings and the last of the Christmas festivities.  For the occasion, the tradition in France is to choose a king by way of eating a crown-shaped-cake where a little figure (in older times a bean) has been hidden. Whoever has the symbol is the king for the day!

Half of France eats a cake made of frangipane and half eats a brioche based one. Being from the South, I chose this year to go for the brioche version. It is a moist brioche, filled with lemon peel, candied fruits and flavoured with orange blossom water. You can decorated it with more crystallised fruit or ground up  sugar.

Crown for the Epiphany

Crown for the Epiphany

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients list:

  • Fine flour (00), 300g
  • eggs, 4
  • Sugar, 75g
  • Bakers yeast, 1 tsp (or 15 gr of fresh yeast)
  • Butter, 150g
  • Orange blossom water, 2 capful
  • Milk, 100g
  • Candied peel and fruit, one cupful
  • one egg yolk

This is so easy to do in the Thermomix, I can’t resist to give you the step by step here but you can always make it in a bowl if you like!

Mix all the ingredients (but the egg yolk and candied fruit) in the Thermomix for 5 or 6 minutes on dough setting then empty the dough in a bowl and cover with cling film to raise for 1 hour.

Once the dough has raised, punch it back into shape by kneading air out of it. Mix the candied fruit into the dough and shape it into a crown. Use a silpat re-usable mat or a tray covered in oven proof paper. Decorate with crushed sugar and more fruit. Don’t forget to hide a “fève” or porcelaine figure in the cake and leave it to raise again for about one hour under a loose plastic bag – cling film would stick to the surface and ruin the look.

When it is risen, brush the top with a little yolk, decorate and bake at 160° for 25 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.

PS: I have to warn my readers it is pretty difficult to get good quality candied fruit in London, apart from lemon or orange peel and even that is hard to come by… I import mine from Provence where they produce the very best ones: Lilamand in Saint Remy de Provence or Maison Villaret in Nimes sell the “crème de la crème”: th variety is impressive, from apricots o chesnuts to wonderful melons. Though I have found good candied oranges or clementines in Italy too…  A good excuse for a bit of shopping abroad.

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These food-borne traditions are wonderful and  I am a sucker for all of them: I have to confess I do enjoy every one of them, from Christmas to Epiphany! I especially love sharing it all  with children around this time, especially the younger nephews and nieces for whom Christmas is still a new, fresh and magical time…

A beautiful wreath make for us by Peppermint Poppy alias Kenza

A beautiful wreath made for us by Peppermint Poppy alias Kenza

Caribbean cooler with hibiscus flowers

Dried hibiscus flowers

Dried hibiscus flowers

A drink is in order to celebrate the half-term week-end, whether you are at home or away! And because this one is alcohol-free, the children can also enjoy…

I pinch this recipe from Henry Dimbleby, owner of the chain Leon who gave it away in the Guardian, but I have changed the quantities and his call for more sugar. It contains one unusual ingredient, Hibiscus flowers; one that I happen to buy quite often since discovering it in Egypt a few years ago. You can find dried hibiscus flowers in herbal shops, health shops and some exotic grocers. I love the tart taste of this infusion and its beautiful deep crimson colour. It is also very high in vitamin C and extremely refreshing… in the heat.

Ingredients list

  • 1.5 litre of water
  • Dried hibiscus flowers, 50g or two big handfuls
  • Fresh ginger, 1 large piece (peeled and chopped)
  • Orange, 1 zested
  • Cloves, 6
  • Soft brown sugar, 150g

Bring all the ingredients up to the boil in a deep pan and simmer for one minute.

Cover and steep overnight.

Pass through a fine sieve and taste to adjust sugar. You might want a bit more.

Chill and serve in tall glasses with ice.

We loved it and my older son might have liked it even better with a large shot of vodka, which is a very tempting option for a Friday night… A votre santé! Salud! My mum and dad always like to invoke health when drinking and for this once it is exceedingly appropriate, given the digestive ginger oils and the vitamin C content!

I raise this alcohol-free glass to my parents with whom I will be celebrating a 50th anniversary in a warmer clime tomorrow: I love you both and I am very proud of you and of what you have achieved in those well-stocked 50 years.

To my parents 50th anniversary

…for my parents 50th anniversary