Gateau Breton

Total Time:
1 hr 35 min
Prep:
25 min
Inactive:
30 min
Cook:
40 min

Yield:
8 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
Directions

Place the flour on the counter and make a well. Cut up the butter and place the sifted sugars, butter, yolks, rum, and vanilla powder in the well. Work the well together.

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.

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F.

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. 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. Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan and serve in wedges.

I kept this recipe in the original metric measurements I was taught it in to show the relationship between the ingredients. Quatre-Quarts (meaning "four quarters") is a French cake shaped like a rectangle and all the ingredients (butter, sugar, flour, and eggs-oooo that would make a good book title, don't you think?) are of equal weights. My teacher, Chef Claude at La Varenne said you weigh the eggs and then match that measurement with the other ingredients.

If you look this up in the dictionary, Quarte-quarts translates to pound cake, the American version of a pound of 4 equal ingredients, but with air whipped in for leavening. This cake is dense and buttery with a big crumb, more like a shortbread than a cake.

You can do the mixing in a food processor but this recipe is the traditional way.


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    This is a double recipe. I made two 8" rounds with these measurements. The recipe is great, it turned out perfect. It was a challenge for me and I couldn't handle the dough for too long without it getting sticky so I kept putting it back in the fridge. I put some ingredients in the middle (raspberry jam and almond butter by making 2 thinner discs for each cake and sandwiching my mock PB and jelly between them. I am going to make this again and try some other flavors inside. I am a little disappointed that the description doesn't mention the origin of the gateau breton and that it is traditionally made with buckwheat. I would like to try it with buckwheat.
    The recipe as written makes a quantity sufficient for two 8" gateau. Either halve the recipe or make two cakes.
     

     
    Grand's description of air beaten in for leavening is very misleading. No air -- or anything else for that matter -- is beaten. There's some lift in the baking -- that is, it's a cake and not a matzoh -- but the lift results from the interaction of steam (from the moist ingredients) and fat.
    I followed this recipe to a T. As another reader wrote, there was twice as much dough than needed if using one 8" pan and roled out to 1/2 inch thickness. There was enough for TWO. But, I placed the entire recipe in a 9" pan because there was so much. Never cooked in the center. I have to throw it out--that would be ONE LB. OF BUTTER, ONE LB. OF FLOUR, ONE LB. OF SUGAR and basically a dozen eggs. Costly bad recipe!
    Although I had a little trouble with the measurements (all in pounds and ounzes), the final product was delicious, buttery and sweet. I will say, though, that I eneded up with more dough than I needed and don't know why. Try this: it is worth the effort.
    I love the recepie and how she makes it so easy. she takes us to France, even if you've never been there.
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    Not what you're looking for? Try:

    Gateau Bretonne

    Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse