As I started the process of cleaning my work computer in preparation for my departure, I have come across myriad of photos of creations that I served over the years. I hadn’t thought of this particular cake in a long time, a staple of Bretagne, originally consumed for breakfast, that I started making in individual portions and dressed up with caramelized peanut ice-cream.
The original recipe came to me through Anne Willan, an accomplished cook who used to own the French cooking school La Varenne and whose cookbooks are beautiful works of art and sources of inspiration. Ms. Willan makes the cake by hand but, in the interest of time-saving (and of serving many people), I started using my trusted mixer and I can’t say I noticed any difference.
Because this cake’s centrepiece is butter, the better the quality, the better the cake. You want a butter that is extremely high in fat content and low in water – I used Plugra, a fantastic French butter that is also divine just spread on bread (and then forget dinner). This cake can be stored in an airtight container up to two weeks, with the butter flavour becoming more intense as time goes by. Perfect to serve with coffee or tea.
Calvados (an apple liqueur) is not essential but a lovely addition that adds complexity to the overall cake.
Recipe – Serves 8
1 C/225 g High quality butter
6 Egg Yolks
2 C/250 g AP Flour
1 C/200 g Sugar
1 T Calvados
- Butter or spray one 8” (20 cm) tart pan, possibly fluted, and with a removable bottom. Mix the egg yolks in a small bowl and remove one teaspoon for the final glaze.
- Sift the flour and place it in the mixer. Cut the butter in small cubes and add it to the flour, together with the yolks, sugar and Calvados. Mix on low with a paddle attachment until the dough comes together. It will be pretty stiff.
- Transfer the dough to the pan, smoothing it with your palm, dipping it in water so it doesn’t stick.
- Brush the surface of the cake with the yolk you set aside and then mark a lattice in the glaze with the tines of a fork. Place in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Bake at 35F/190C for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 356F/180C and bake 20/25 minutes longer, rotating it for even baking, until golden brown.
- Let it cool to warm and then unmold. The butter flavour will become more intense the longer you keep it.