Pithiviers is named after the town of Pithiviers in France, where it’s swirled design and almond filling is a signature. It is made with puff pastry, which must be kept cold while you are working with it. If it begins to lose its stiffness, chill it for 15 - 20 minutes before continuing. Chill the filling as well before assembling the pithiviers, and work in a cool room. The good news is that good puff pastry dough is available in the freezer section of most large groceries.
- Puff Pastry - two 12-inch circles, rolled 1/8 inch thick
- Frangipane Filling
- Unsalted Butter - 2-1/4 cups (4-1/2 sticks)
- Sugar - 1-1/2 cups
- Almond powder - 2 cups
- Whole Eggs - 4
- Flour - 3/4 cup
- Rum - 3 tablespoons
- Egg - 1
- Water - 1 teaspoon
To prepare the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the flour and beat to incorporate completely. Add the almond powder, and beat to incorporate completely. Add the rum and beat for 30 more seconds. Chill for 30 minutes.
To make the pithiviers: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place one of the pastry circles on the baking sheet. Mound the filling in the center. Brush the edge around the filling with cold water, and cover the filling with the second circle of pastry. Press the edges together to seal.
Make the fluted bottom edges: Cover the mound formed by the filling with an inverted bowl or cake pan which allows about one half inch of the pastry to peek out all around. Using a small knife, cut 1-1/2 inch scallops all around the dough. Press down firmly with the bowl or cake pan to seal, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. The pithiviers may be frozen at this point, then taken from the freezer at a later date; begin working on it as soon as the knife will penetrate the dough.
Make the fluted top design: Just before baking, slightly beat the egg with the water. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Butter a 4-inch circle of aluminum foil, twist it into a narrow cone, and cut off the bottom to create a chimney. Brush the top of the pithiviers with egg glaze. Cut a small hole in the center of the top and insert the chimney. Brush the pithiviers with a second coating of egg glaze. With the point of a small sharp knife, begin at the chimney and cut a spiral line around the filling and out to meet one of the indentations of the scallops. Cut through the glaze and slightly into the dough. Repeat all the way around the pithiviers.
Place immediately in the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. If it is getting too brown on top, lay a piece of parchment or foil loosely over the top. Remove from the oven and remove the funnel.
Heat the broiler to very high, or use a small blowtorch. Dust the top with confectioner’s sugar. Place the pithiviers under the broiler until the sugar melts into a shiny coating. Or, quickly toast the sugar with a small blowtorch. Cool the pithiviers on a rack.