Serious Eats: Recipes

Rose Levy Beranbaum's Gâteau Breton

[Photographs: Caroline Russock]

Out of all of the recipes in Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum this Gâteau Breton is the least showy. It's not a multilayered, intricately iced affair, and certainly doesn't require a lot of special equipment or time, for that matter.

The recipe was inspired by a gâteau Basque, one of Beranbaum's all-time favorite desserts, a simple cake meets pastry that is popular in the Basque and Brittany regions of France. The traditional version of this gâteau is made up of ingredients not unlike a pound cake, butter, flour, sugar but Beranbaum adds a few extras to make this cake her own—toasted ground almonds are mixed in for some texture and a bit of kirsch or rum for flavor.

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Once I put the batter for this cake into the pan and in the oven it was only a matter of minutes before an intoxicating began to fill my kitchen. It was a sweet mix of sugar, eggs, and almonds that brought to mind freshly baked almond croissants. And once it was finished baking, the surface was a shiny golden yellow and brown and a dead ringer for the photo of the cake that accompanied the recipe in the book.

The beauty of this cake is that during baking the batter acts as a crust and a filling. The outer edges crisp up and the center remains moist. The cake will stay for about a week at room temperature, gradually transforming in texture from cake-like into a more dense shortbread texture.

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