Monday, February 16, 2009


This is classic French cookery: simple, straightforward and truly brilliant. It is traditionally served with a distinctive swirl of knife cuts on the lid and can be eaten warm or cold. It's Sarah's favourite end to dinner parties and disappears very quickly indeed to be followed by the sounds of over-indulged people regretting that second slice - it's pretty rich.

Does it come from the town of Pithiviers in France? Do I look like I care?

  • 500g puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 2 tbsp milk

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar, sifted
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 150g ground almond
  • 2-3 drops almond essence
  • 2-3 drops vanilla exract
  • 2 tbsp brandy

Pre-heat the oven to GM7/220C/425F.

Beat the butter and sugar to a light cream. This will take some time/effort unless you’re smart and use a hand whizzer with a beater attachment. We’re looking at a white coloured, smooth paste before you start adding the egg yolks one at a time, beating each one in well to combine it before adding the next. If you rush this, it’ll curdle. If that happens then smack yourself around the head for being an idiot and then add in a teaspoon or two of flour to the mixture, which should restore things.

Once all the eggs are combined with the sugar, beat in the ground almonds, brandy, almond essence and vanilla extract.

Halve the pastry and roll it out on a cool, well-floured surface to give two 25cm squares. Spoon the filling in a 20cm circle on one square, giving yourself a good 2cm clear pastry all around filling. Brush around the filling with water, then place the second pastry square on top. Cut a circle out around the filling and that 2cm gap, then knock up the edges to give a nice, secure round parcel of filling. Score the top with a spiral pattern of four light cuts swirling around from the centre to the edges and then brush with the egg yolk and milk mixed together.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in the centre of the oven. Serve warm or cold (better warm!) with a lot of whipped cream. I like to chuck some vanilla and a spoon of something French into the cream just to be naughty...

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