4 JANUARY 1992, Page 35

Old bean — 4,....04.....jork„..)ML....AL)

young breasts

OWING TO the strange way holidays have of causing total havoc to normal working life, I am instructed to write this piece for January 1992 when we haven't even fin- ished Advent, let alone the feasts and fes- tivities to follow. I feel it is presumptuous to think I may still be here so far ahead, counting my chicks etc. When you do read this on 4 January, it will be two days before the Feast of the Epiphany, twelfth night after Christmas, when the Three Kings, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, arrived with their gifts for the Christ Child. I hope you will all have had a splendid Christmas without too many disasters or distempers. Now you are fancy-free and fit and can in- dulge this rich Epiphany cake from France. It has a bean hidden in it, and the recipient of the bean is chosen King of the Feast.

Three Kings almond pastry (Calcite des Rois aux amandes)

The pastry: 9 oz plain flour '/2 teaspoon salt 7 oz unsalted butter

1/4pint chilled water (approx)

The filling: 4 oz ground almonds 4 drops of real almond essence 3 tablespoons kirsch or the like 3 egg yolks 4 oz. unsalted butter 4 oz. caster sugar 1 dried bean

For the pastry, sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut in 3 oz of the butter with a sharp knife until the mixture is like fine breadcrumbs. Mix in enough water to make a non-sticky dough. Knead gently, then leave for 20 minutes. Roll out the pas- try to about a 144 inch thickness. Dot it with a third of the remaining butter cut into lit- tle squares. Fold the pastry into three, like a letter, then again into three in the oppo- site direction, like a napkin. Leave for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Repeat this process twice more, then leave for yet another 20 minutes before using. Divide the pastry in half. Roll each half into a round of about 9 inches. Let them rest while you make the filling. If you can't face all that fun, buy a 1lb packet of frozen puff pastry to use instead. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 5, 375F, 190C. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in two of the egg yolks, the almond essence, the

kirsch and the ground almonds, work together until you have a smooth paste. Rinse a baking tray under cold water. Place one of the rounds of pastry on the tray. Spoon the paste on to the round and spread evenly, leaving a 2-inch margin all round. Hide the bean in the mixture. Beat the remaining yolk with a little water and paint the pastry edge. Place the second round of pastry on top and gently push the edges together. Chill for 45 minutes. Make a lattice or star-shaped pattern on the top. Use a sharp knife but do not cut through to the filling. Pinch the edges prettily togeth- er. Paint the top with the egg yolk mixture. Bake the galette for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is crisp and brown. Transfer to a rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and grill for a minute, if you like. When cool, serve with a golden crown on top and a glass of kirsch or some sweet wine, and discover the King of the Feast.

For alternative delights, you might like the pink breasts described by Filippo Marinetti in our last month's cook books, though they would be more suitable for poor St Agatha's feast-day on 5 February.

Fragomammelle (Strawberry Breasts)

I lb strawberries I tablespoon lemon juice I tablespoon caster sugar I'm lb ricotta cheese

14 pint double cream

3 tablespoons Campari 4-5 tablespoons icing sugar

Set aside 16 of the smallest strawberries. Cut the rest into small pieces. Put in a bowl with the lemon juice and the sugar, leave to soak for an hour. Push the ricotta through the smallest sieve of a food mill. Add the cream and the Campari, mix thorotighly. Sieve the icing sugar into the mixture to your own taste. Remove a third of the mix- ture from the bowl and set aside. Mix the strawberries into the remains of the ricotta. Prepare pink dessert plates. Divide the mixture into 16 mounds, two for each plate. With a 'moistened spatula smooth the reserved ricotta and Campari over the mounds. Place a small strawberry on the top of each 'breast'. You can make the mounds up to three hours in advance and store in the refrigerator.

Happy New Year!

Jennifer Paterson