One of my favorite features in BRIGHT LIGHTS PARIS is the Bastille Day Picnic story. (You’ll find if in Chapter 9) Bastille Day is one of my favorite holidays of the year and a great French tradition to recreate at home. My neighborhood in Brooklyn throws one of the biggest celebrations in the country, hosted by BAR TABAC. With Bastille Day around the corner, on July 14th, I wanted to share the recipe for the French Flag Cake that was featured in the book. You can also make this anytime of year for any French themed party.
2 cups milk
1/2 granulated sugar
1/2 scraped vanilla bean
3 tbsp cornstarch
4 egg yolks
5 tbsp butter
1. In a medium saucepan combine milk and 1/2 of the sugar. Put over medium-high heat.
2. In a small bowl whisk together 4 yolks, the other 1/2 of the sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla bean (vanilla beans are the best option but 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste can be substituted).
3. Right before milk starts to boil add a small amount to yolks and sugar while whisking to bring eggs to temperature and avoid scrambling.
4. Remove saucepan from the burner but leave the stove top on, pour the tempered egg mixture into the saucepan and place over heat. Whisky vigorously on and off the heat for a minimum of 2 minutes until smooth consistency (You want to see air pockets come out of the cream but you don’t want to burn the bottom).
5. Take saucepan off the heat and stir in the butter until completely incorporated.
6. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap and pour a flat layer of the cream onto it. Cover with plastic wrap and press against the pastry cream so an air skin won’t form.
Refrigerate until cool.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
1. Roll out on a lightly floured board until you have a good rectangle shape.
2. With a fork, poke holes in puff pastry to release air while its baking.
3. Place puff pastry on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Add another baking sheet on top to weigh it down, press firmly.
4. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Check on the puff every 10 mins and continue to push down on top baking sheet to flatten the puff pastry.
5. About 5 mins before its done baking take puff pastry out and coat with a thin layer of light corn syrup. This step is done to help avoid pastry from getting soggy after it is topped with pastry cream. Let sit for a few minutes.
Fold in the whipped cream until fully combined. At this step, you can also add a flavored liquor such as Cointreau or Peppermint.
1. To create the French flag, add a layer off pastry cream covering the whole puff pastry but not going completely the edges to leave some space for it spread with the berries.
2. Use raspberries to separate the cake into thirds.
3. Place raspberries on the middle 1/3 and cover with sifted powdered sugar (If you can find white raspberries, even better and then you won’t need the powdered sugar). For picture perfect lines use two pieces of paper so sugar doesn’t bleed onto the other thirds.
3. Add layer of blueberries on the left side covering 1/3 of the puff pastry.
4. Finish the flag with red raspberries on the right 1/3 of the puff pastry.
HAPPY BASTILLE DAY!!