Friday, July 2, 2010

The Gateau Breton [a catch-up cake for me]

It was not feasible for me to bake the chocolate ice cream cake this week, so I baked one of my catch-up cakes instead. Which one to choose was a difficult decision to make. But, I made this decision based partly on the fact that I feel somewhat on sugar-overload right now. Also, my decision was based on the rave reviews from my colleague Heavenly Bakers about the Gateau Breton. I was in the mood for something more rustic. And then, as I was trying to decide, I came upon a 'take' of Hector's in his Yellow Kitchen. That was it! Isn't it funny how something just pops up and makes your decision for you?

I was captivated by Hector's use of the Macadamia nuts, instead of almonds, in concert with Turbinado sugar, instead of just superfine. It occurred to me that this would be a subtle, complex flavor. I had no rum, or Kirsch. How could anyone run out of Kirsch - like I use it once a year? Actually, I wanted it because I wanted to serve some cherries and strawberries and blueberries with creme fraiche on the side for this little dessert. Oh well, what I did have was a small amount of Calvados left. I just used two teaspoons of that and water. If I had wanted to bake this gateau "au pommes" as they are prone to do in France, I would have used the whole amount of Calvados apple brandy. But that is for some future fun, for sure.
For the present, however, among us the word is that this is a simple gateau to prepare. So, for me an easy mis en place. Still, I must always remind myself that no matter how 'easy' I think it is, I have a propensity to forget things ... so I do this prepping.
The Macademia nuts, substituted for almonds, I slivered, toasted, and ground with the Turbinado sugar. I had asked Hector if he changed amounts for the substituted ingredients and he said no, so I just went ahead.

I used the flat Beater Blade to beat the sugar, nuts, and higher-fat Plugra butter. I couldn't locate the Organic Valley Butter or the Vermont. The egg yolks [egg yolks Marie lol], were added, and lastly the flour in four parts. 
This resulted in a heavy batter that was placed into a 9x2" round, previously sprayed with Baker's Joy, and put into a baking strip. The batter was then easily smoothed with a small offset spatula, brushed with one tablespoon of egg wash, and cross-hatch marks were made with a fork to prevent the crust from baking unevenly. The cake was now ready for the oven.

And so it emerged:

As the gateau sat for ten minutes, I became aware that at this time it would have been fortuitous to have a tart pan with removable bottom. So, I took the picture of the cake resting, for the record, because I had visions of it falling into smithereens as I attempted to invert it. But the 'flippin' gods' were with us. It turned over and even re-inverted onto the cake-stand with no problems.

Now the time was near for our intimate dessert gathering:

Our guests were not prepared for this dessert since it was more rustic than what I normally present to them. They were immediately enthralled. They enjoyed knowing more about the regional preferences for the gateau, the use of apples and prunes atop, and in it, in certain regions in France. They enjoyed its simplicity, and texture, and were intrigued by the subtle vestiges of caramel that the Turbinado sugar lent, along with the bare appearance of the Calvados and the flavor of Macadamia nuts. Although the gateau, of course, could have stood on its own, the different fruits, cheese and creme fraiche also added another dimension to the fare. And so, a little bit of France was enjoyed by all!
And we are having a piece for brunch ~


  1. Beautiful, Joan! It's on my todo list. Thanks sharing Hector's tips. Will remember that.

    Btw, congrats on being Featured Baker of the week. Please give yourself a big pat on the back for your perseverance.

  2. You are on a baking frenzy lately! Great job on the Gateau, it's beautiful.

  3. I second Jenn, you are on a baking frenzy! Your Gateau looks lovely, and your dessert party enviable. What lucky friends you have!

  4. Thank you so much Hanaa, Jenn, and Jennifer. What great friends all of us Heavenly Bakers are. It is what makes this learning process so much fun.

  5. yours is beautiful! for some reason whenever i make this cake i can't get the criss-cross appearance. do you have any tips? well done!

  6. Hi - thanks for the compliment. I have sent you a link with a great, easy demo of the basket weave, and she also does other gorgeous, different things. I also explained what I did, which was rudimentary to say the least, and you will see what I should have done. Also I shared Marie's trick of using the back-side of the fork tines so they don't point down and rip up the batter as you drag them. Actually, I don't think these hatch marks are meant to show after the baking, only to be used so cake won't be uneven, but we all liked the finished look, so we used them.

  7. Wow..a lot of catch up lately for you! :D I too have a list of catch up to do too! Lovely i see your version, put this right on top of the list!

  8. Thanks Faithy! I think we all did pretty much the same - seems to work!

  9. ב''ה

    Wow sounds like a great version with unique flavors!