Butter, lots of butter, sugar, a little rum, eggs, vanilla, and just enough flour to hold it together. So delicious! A rustic desert from the Brittany region in northwest France with a recipe perfected by the pastry chefs at Cook’s Illustrated featuring a non-traditional filling of apricot purée. If you were to Google “Gateau Breton” you will find a very similar recipe from NY Times Cooking. Either version will yield a rich and satisfying confection that reminds me of a soft shortbread with a fruit filling. The preparation is quite easy, just make sure that you get your butter and sugar mixture nice and fluffy because air bubbles are the only leavening agent. That said, the cake is meant to be dense and tender so don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t rise too much.
This recipe calls for dried California apricots but I had some Made In Nature (ᵀᴹ) , unsulfured, Turkish Apricots (available at Whole Foods and Costco) on hand. We prefer their rich, almost caramelized, flavor and the finished purée was fabulous in my opinion. I have also included a recipe for the prune filling below – I am certain that it would be just as tasty.
Do try this wonderful cake, it is a keeper for sure.
- ⅔ cup water
- ½ cup dried California apricots, chopped
- ⅓ cup (2 ⅓ ounces) sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 ⅛ ounces) sugar
- 6 large egg yolks (1 lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water)
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- FOR THE FILLING: Process water and apricots in blender until uniformly pureed, about 2 minutes. Transfer puree to 10-inch nonstick skillet and stir in sugar. Set skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until puree has darkened slightly and rubber spatula leaves distinct trail when dragged across bottom of pan, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer filling to bowl and stir in lemon juice. If using Turkish apricots increase lemon juice to 2 tablespoons. Refrigerate filling until cool to touch, about 15 minutes.
- FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch round cake pan.
- Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth and lightened in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes longer. Add 5 egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Scrape down bowl, add rum and vanilla, and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, add flour and salt, and mix until flour is just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give batter final stir by hand.
- Spoon half of batter into bottom of prepared pan. Using small offset spatula, spread batter into even layer. Freeze for 10 minutes.
- Spread ½ cup filling in even layer over chilled batter, leaving ¾-inch border around edge (reserve remaining filling for another use). Freeze for 10 minutes.
- Gently spread remaining batter over filling. Using offset spatula, carefully smooth top of batter. Brush with egg yolk wash. Using tines of fork, make light scores in surface of cake, spaced about 1½ inches apart, in diamond pattern, being careful not to score all the way to sides of pan. Bake until top is golden brown and edges of cake start to pull away from sides of pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Run paring knife between cake and sides of pan, remove cake from pan, and let cool completely on rack, about 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve.
- 1cup pitted prunes
- 1cup water
- 1tablespoon lemon juice
- Bring prunes and water to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until all liquid is absorbed and prunes are very soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat, add lemon juice, and stir with wooden spoon, pressing prunes against side of saucepan, until coarsely pureed. Transfer filling to bowl and refrigerate until cool to touch, about 15 minutes.