30 October, 2011

Operation Domestic Goddess: Gateau Breton

This weekend's bake was a "Gateau Breton," or Brittany butter cake.   As I looked at the picture of it in Nigella's book I confess I felt a little impatient to move on to more colorful recipes...  The parade of plain cakes and tea loaves is getting just a wee bit monotonous.

Thanks to this site I learned that this cake was created in the Breton (or "Brittany") region of France, a common way to use the region's staple buckwheat flour.  Nigella's recipe doesn't require buckwheat flour, nor do we have any in our cupboard, so I guess we weren't bound for a totally authentic French experience here -- but the 250 grams of butter and 6 egg yolks seemed in keeping with the spirit of French baking!

So.  Four ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, egg yolks.  Mix it all up, pour it in a pan, put it in the oven.  Result: A charming, rustic, chewy cake -- or so we thought, but appearances are deceiving.  What looks to be charming, rustic, chewy cake is in reality a hockey puck of butter and sugar.  What this picture does not show you is that it took me a full minute to hack out a slice, and that the entire bottom of the cake is essentially candy, where 250 grams of sugar caramelized.  R took one (and only one) bite, chewed thoughtfully, then said, "That is a disaster."  I had a taste, and it is, indeed, so overwhelmingly buttery that it's not actually enjoyable.  I think if it were not such a dense cake and had some other flavor, like citrus zest or vanilla extract, it might be more palatable.  (No insult the region and foodways of Breton intended; maybe the magic of Gateau Breton has just been lost in translation!)

Needless (and sad) to say, we won't be inflicting gifting this week's bake to anyone...But we decided it would probably make a lovely Frisbee, sundial, or clock face.

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