Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas in France and the Cake of Kings

Instead of blogging, I have been grading term papers. Instead of blogging, I've been running many miles. Sewing pillowcases, too. (That's a suprise for my church group of Young Women.) Teaching lectures on Existentialism, Einstein and Freud. Homeschooling the charges on various topics including Lewis and Clark, the Islamic Empire, the excretory system, and transitive verbs. Under this heap of work, I'm here still and there is a Christmas light at the end of the tunnel. So let's plug it in and get started.

Joyeux Noel, or Merry Christmas in France, our next stop in our Christmas Around the World series. Christmas is a religious holiday and French families celebrate Christmas with a creche (or nativity) in their homes or at church. Carols are sung as baby Jesus is placed in his manger bed.
The three wise men are not placed with the creche until Epiphany Eve, on January 6th. At that time a "Cake of Kings" is baked with a hidden bean inside. The finder of the bean receives a lucky crown and becomes king or queen of the party. We make one every year.
I promised the charges that last night we would make our Cake of Kings. And by golly, a promise is a promise. It was 10:30 when I was finally pulling my little French chocolate almond cakes out of the oven. I put a bean in each cake, since it's no fun to have only one winner. West found his bean immediately and was henceforth known as "King West." But the future Queen ran into trouble. At first she couldn't find her bean, or so we thought. But then we realized that she had EATEN it . A cold hard pinto bean, right in the middle of her beautiful chocolate cake! She laid her head down on the table, and I thought she might actually cry a little. Sneakily, I slipped another bean into her cake crumbs and encouraged her to look again. Tragedy averted! I love it when I can save the day. Queen Sailor, the bean eater, went to bed happy last night. She said she is planning on keeping her bean forever. Take a lesson from the French and make a little cake a kings for the royalty in your family, only take care that the young monarchs spit out their beans.
And one last thing: As testimony that too much work can make one a little batty, I realized that those sables I promised to write about, I'd actually already written about. Sables are sandy and delicious and well worth making. You can roll them in green sugar or red sugar and give them away as Christmas gifts. They are the original slice and bake cookies.Here is the recipe. And here is the cake.
French Chocolate Almond Cake
Estimated Cost: $4.00
I made a half batch and baked it in three 8 ounce ramekins.
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup finely chopped almonds
pinch of salt
Melt chocolate in microwave until just melted. Cream butter and sugar in separate medium bowl. Add chocolate and mix well. Stir in egg yolks. Add flour and almonds, mixing gently. Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into chocolate mixture. Pour into 8 inch cake pan (slip in a dried bean or two) and bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Here are some of my pics from my trip to France last year...
See you in a couple of days with Christmas in Sweden and Sweet Rolls

10 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

J'adore :)

Marjie said...

I want those pastries in France. All of them. Love the story of Sailor and the bean; it's always nice when you can save the day.

What are you reading in 5th grade this year? We've finished Shiloh and Sign of the Beaver. American Tall Tales are next! It's amazing how much we can teach them, isn't it?

Jenn said...

I have a question for you. Sorry it doesn't relate to this post at all. Maybe it doesn't relate to any post you'll ever do. But...I was looking at a jello mold in my cupboards considering throwing out the piece of plastic and never using it again when I got another idea. Ask you instead. What's the secret to making the jello come out right when using a jello mold? So far I've had gooey, melted mess from trying to heat it enough to get it out easily. Is this something I just have to practice several times until I get it right?

Adrienne said...

Oh wow, those all look like lovely pictures. Cute story about Sailor, way to rescue the evening. I love French Christmas traditions. Maybe if I'm really ambitious this season I'll make a chocolate yule log with little meringue mushrooms. My daughter is a meringue freak.

Julie Harward said...

OH YUMMY! AND THE FRENCH PASTRIES...TO DIE FOR!!! :D

Catherine said...

I love this cake idea. I have never done it and I mean to every year. Perhaps this year. Only I don't think my charges are quite ready for beans in their cake yet. It would have to be a very large bean.

I love your pictures of France. That was an amazing trip.

Fuji Mama said...

Too funny that she ate the bean! Your post makes me NEED a trip to France--it's been too long since I've been!

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