RECIPE: Gâteau Breton
On Wednesday afternoons in France, school would let out around noon and all the students, and most workers, would go home for the day and just relax during the middle of the week. Therefore, my Wednesdays were usually spent having lunch at someone's house, and most of the time it was my friend's mom, Madeline, who would cook for us. She is one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet, and every time I would visit she made a big effort to either make or purchase another traditional Breton dish or dessert (or as she put it, "Une autre spécialité bretonne pour toi!")
One of the simplest, yet tasty, desserts Madeline made was a "Gâteau Breton" or "Breton Cake." Just like crêpes, the ingredients are really simple since everyone has them in their pantries, and just like crêpes, you can combine all kinds of flavors with the cake to make it even sweeter. Please share and enjoy - and thank Madeline while you're at it!
Traditional Gâteau Breton
1 pound all-purpose flour
1 pound sugar (1/2 pound powdered sugar and 1/2 pound granulated sugar), sifted
1 pound salted butter
10 egg yolks
1 tablespoon dark rum (don't worry, the taste will be subtle and the alcohol will burn off)
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 teaspoon water
1. Place the flour on the counter and make a well.
2. Cut up the butter and place the sifted sugars, butter, yolks, rum, and vanilla powder in the well and work the well together. 3. Work in the flour then "fraisage" the dough, pushing it away from you on the counter with the heel of your hand. This helps schmear the butter into thin layers to make the cake flakey in the end. Chill the dough 30 minutes. 4. Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F. 5. Butter an 8-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment and butter the paper. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to an 8-inch disk about 1/2-inch thick. Flip it over onto your hand and brush off the excess flour then place it in the pan.
6. Brush the top with egg wash; then egg wash it again to get a thicker coating. Using a knife, decorate it with the traditional cross-hatching, or for restaurant presentation you carve a map of Brittany on the surface and do some angled lines all around the edge.
7. Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.
8. Let cool in the pan and serve in wedges. Add whatever extras you'd like to serve with this dish (ice cream, strawberries, chocolate sauce, etc.) and then stuff it into your face.