Thursday, April 08, 2010

Carnations for you, xx

This is not surprising that the date for National Day changes from country to country. It also could not be more logical, since it is almost always (at least I think) in relation to a historical fact. In France, it's July 14th, the day that marks the end of absolute monarchy, and the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille. 

Regarding the United Kingdom is a bit peculiar. There is no National Day as it is understood in France apparently, but there's one day for each nation that celebrates its patron saint. In England, they celebrate St. George on April 23th, Scotland celebrates St Andrew's on November 30th, St. Patrick on March 17th in Ireland (though we celebrate it in France I assure you), and finally St. David, March 1st in Wales.
But that does not explain what I cooked for this message. What I also noticed is that Mother's Day - and therefore all other special days - are not celebrated on the same day (that makes a lot of days). I just assumed it was to regularly spread the holiday celebrations according to each country. In England, mothers are celebrated on March 14th when it's not until May 30th in France. But since I live here now, I thought that I had to adapt. So I will celebrate Mother's Day as it should : by baking biscuits bearing the likeness of flowers that represent this beautiful day.

These carnations are complete. Crispy thanks to wholemeal flour (but you'll get it with plain flour as well), but creamy and sweet with jam, they are both elegant in shape and completely childish with this sweet addition, which is perfect for a sunny "goûter". J'adore.

Ingredients for a dozen Carnations :
100g complete flour
60g plain flour
120g butter, softened
50g brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds to skillet
orange or red fruits jam, or lemon curd

I used a small portion of egg whites to make royal icing. You can find instructions here. As I use it regularly, it's a bit redundant to repeat it to you.

In a bowl, cut the butter into small cubes. Add sugar and whisk until frothy cream. Break the eggs and then add the yolks. Reserve the whites in a ramekin for future use. Sift both flours, then add them gradually while stirring. When the dough becomes firmer, change the whip for a fork and pour the seeds. Finish with the remaining flour, kneading with your hands if it's easier. Form a thick coil with the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Reserve in refrigerator for one hour.

Heat oven at 180°C.
When the dough has hardened, take one part and then lower into a thin sheet on a floured work surface. As there are two layers, it is important that the dough gets thin. But not too much, otherwise you'll loose some petals! 2-3mm is good. Work with small bits to help avoiding disasters.
With a knife, draw the bottom and top of the biscuits, and remember making a hole in the center for the top art so that the jam is visible, and bake the whole on a baking sheet for 7-8min. The edges should be colored, but it's made a bit less visible with the flour. To give the side irregular edges like petals, tear the dough in part by pulling the knife toward the outside. Use the teeth of the knife to add details. I also sprinkled sugar on the surface so that they caramelize a bit.
When cookies have cooled, combine them in pairs to test the best combination and spread jam. Replace the top, and finish with a little icing on the lace border.

Happy Mother's Day! (Regardless of the delay it's worth celebrating every day).

Detail from Gustav Klimt's paitning, The three ages of Women, 1905.

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