I first heard about pithiviers from the concept of a french king cake, Galette des Rois. My friend who’s family is french told me about her favorite dessert that’s usually eaten during epiphany. Btw, epiphany is a holiday remembering the kings or wise men who visited baby Jesus. Galette des rois is a specific cake to the occasion and the general form of dessert is called a pithivier.
Oh right, so what is a pithivier? In essence it’s a more of a pastry shaped as a round cake with a filling inside of two rounds of puff pastry. There’s a lot of tradition that goes behind the galette des rois, like hiding a small ceramic figurine and who ever gets the slice with the fève becomes king for the day. But what really caught me was the almond paste inside a luscious puff pastry and a gorgeous knife-cut design on top. Although one may only eat galette des rois around epiphany (in January), I feel that pithiviers are allowed any time of year, whenever you feel like it without the guilt of eating a traditional pastry at the wrong time. Like why would you eat a yule log in July? Not that it isn’t allowed, but tying pastries to a season makes them so much more special.
For thanksgiving (or really the fall-winter months), pecan pies are super common and one of my favorite pies. I even have a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie recipe in this blog! So what better than to combine 2 of my favorites into one amazing dessert? A pecan pie pithivier! I based the pithivier off the Le Cordon Bleu recipe because it’s just that yummy and simple to make. I find it’s easier to make than croissants. For the filling, you can’t use a normal pecan pie filling or else it’ll just run off. Instead, I cook the filling slightly *and without any corn syrup* to let it set a bit before baking. Essentially you’re baking the pastry itself as opposed to also baking the filling.
When you roll out the puff pastry, it’s 6 times vs the typical 3 times you roll and fold into thirds for croissants. You probably won’t see the layers when you cut through, but don’t fret because they’re 95% going to turn out fine as long as you’ve chilled it for at least 30 min between layers. I recommend going for 30 min-1 hour and not too long or else it gets too cold.
The key to rolling out laminated dough (puff pastry, croissants…) is to keep the dough fairly chill, but most importantly, the dough and the butter must be the same pliability. If the butter block is too stiff, rolling it may cause breakage, which will create chunky pieces of butter instead of thin layers of butter. And too warm (i.e. more than 10-15 min out of the fridge), then the butter will meld with the dough, creating a mass of bread instead of pastry.
Let’s get started!
PS I made a turkey with my scraps, so get creative!
Pecan Pie Pithivier
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2/3 cup water, warm
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 1/2 cup pecans, toasted
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp water
- Puff Pastry: In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the 6 Tbsp butter and water. Heat it up if it doesn't mix well. Small floating clumps of butter is okay. Mix in the salt and flour.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface or use the dough hook until the dough unsticks from the surface and can be formed into a smooth ball. Cover in wrap and refrigerate for an hour (cool to touch).
- Meanwhile, prep your butter. It can be helpful to start near room temperature. Cut long slices from the butter and piece together an approximate 8 inch x 8 inch square. Wrap in plastic or parchment and use a rolling pin to roll out the bumps to create a smooth square. Refrigerate for 30 min.
- The dough and butter should be of similar pliability, not too stiff. Remove both from the fridge and place the dough on a slightly floured surface, rolling it out to a 12 inch x 12 inch square.
- Place the butter block in a diamond (45 degrees off from the dough) and fold the corners of the dough to cover the butter block completely. You should end up with an 8x8 inch block of dough wrapping the butter.
- Roll out the pastry dough to 16 inch x 24 inch. Fold it in thirds like a letter. Turn it 90 degrees. Roll it out to 8 inch x 24 inch. Fold into thirds again. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 min.
- Repeat the last step twice more for a total of 6 folds, chilling between every second fold. Let it chill for an hour.
- Pecan Filling: While the dough is chilling, make the filling. Combine the 2 Tbsp butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and 2 eggs in a pot. On low heat, whisk until the mixture thickens slightly. Be careful, once it starts, it happens very quick. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, prep the puff pastry. Roll it out to 8 inch x 12 inch. Divide it in half. Cover and refrigerate one half. For the other, roll out to 10 inch x 10 inch. Using a 9 inch circular pan, score the dough to mark the edges of the pithivier. Refrigerate and repeat with the second half. Do not cut the discs out.
- Depending on your preference, you can start drawing lines with a knife to create a design now or after it's assembled. Many traditional patterns start by scoring from the center of the circle, radiating outwards.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Assembly: Place the lower half of the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet. Mix in the pecans into the filling and spread in the center of the pastry, leaving a 1-2 inch border from the edge of the marked circle. Gentle center and place the top pastry above everything. Using the 9 inch circular pan, cut out the pithivier. Score the top pastry if you haven't yet. Refrigerate as needed.
- Make the egg wash by beating 1 egg with 1 Tbsp of water.
- Use the egg wash and brush the pastry with it. Refrigerate for 10 min and repeat before placing the pastry in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Lower to 350°F and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown and puffy.
- Make the simple syrup. You can simply microwave it for 30 seconds at a time, until the sugar dissolves or melt it over the stove.
- When the pithivier is baked, remove from the oven and immediately brush with the simple syrup. Cool to room temperature and serve. Enjoy!
- Whenever you are not actively working with any part of the dough, cover and refrigerate it, especially if the kitchen is warm.
- Puff pastry based on Le Cordon Bleu's Galette des Rois
- Filling very loosely based on/inspired by Sally's Baking Addiction
- With the scrap pastry, create something fun out of it and bake for about 15 min to cook!
Did you make this recipe?
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