Saturday, 23 February 2013

This Is Not A Gâteau Creusois

Today we make another stop on my annoyingly long tour de cakes de France and find ourselves in the Creuse. The Creuse is a lovely region, although the last time I was there it was around this time of the year and it was really cold. Anyway, it’s there that you’re likely to find examples of a gâteau called ‘Le Creusois’ on sale.

It’s also possible that you’ll find several similar cakes under slightly different names in French supermarkets, as well as a number of versions of gâteau Creusois recipes which people will tell you are the real, authentic recipe that their grand-mère made. They may well be authentic and ancient recipes – I have nothing but the greatest respect for grand-mères – but the particular cake sold as ‘Le Creusois’ was actually born shortly after the Beatles gave their last performance on the Apple roof in 1969. It appears that the gâteau was inspired by a 15th century parchment found in a monastery around that time, although the actual recipe itself is a closely guarded secret.

I have no wish to upset the pâtissiers or any of the other residents of the Creuse with my efforts so let me make it absolutely clear that this is not a Gâteau Creusois, it just happens to be rather like one. Let’s think of it instead as my tribute to that fine region and as a delicious hazelnut cake.
Gateau Creusois or Maybe Not
In the Creuse the gâteau (whatever it’s called) is most often eaten cold as a dessert with crème anglaise or crème fraîche and it’s truly delicious that way. On the other hand, if you want to break with tradition, try making a syrup of equal parts water and sugar, boiled together for a minute or two. Take the syrup off the heat and add a very generous glug of Frangelico liqueur. Once cool, make a few small holes in the top of the cake with a knifepoint and soak it with the syrup. That's what I did and it made the cake sink a little in the middle (a bit like the Creuse) but, in my opinion, it makes an even nicer dessert.

210 g caster sugar
110 g plain flour
110 g ground hazelnuts
120 g butter, softened
1 whole egg
2 egg whites

Grease and line a 23 cm cake tin – a springform tin is probably best, if you have one. (You could use a smaller tin if you want a thicker, more British-looking cake, but I think the thinner gâteau is nicer as a dessert). Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Mix together the sugar, flour and hazelnuts. Thoroughly beat in the softened butter followed by the whole egg.

Whisk the 2 egg whites to the firm peak stage and stir about a third of them into the mixture to loosen it. Gently, but thoroughly, fold in the remaining egg white. Put into the prepared cake tin and level the top. Bake for around 30 minutes (but check after 25 minutes). When the point of a knife or skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Soak with a Frangelico-laced syrup, if you’re so inclined (and I'd certainly recommend it).
Gateau Creusois or Maybe Not

14 comments:

  1. Our little holiday home in France is in the Creuse Valley area (on the Claise actually) but I haven't come across this cake. I will look out for it next time we are chez nous, it looks delicious.

    There is nothing the least bit annoying about your cake tour of France - it could go on for ever for me.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. My version's not the real thing but to get the truly authentic gâteau you need to go to one of the pâtisseries who are members of 'L'Association Le Creusois'. I'm pretty sure that they'll all be a bit to the south of your holiday home - the monastery in question was actually near Crocq. There's an interactive list of pâtisseries that sell 'le véritable gâteau' at http://www.gateau-le-creusois.fr/points-de-vente/.

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  2. Your blog is crammed full with my sort of cakes, and lovely stories to go with them.

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  3. Phil, the only annoying thing about your tour of French cakes is that I'm not on the bus!
    A glug of Frangelico should be compulsory, whatever les Creusois say (eg, 'Mon Dieu!')

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    1. Actually, that sounds a great idea - a magic bus trip around France dedicated to the discovery of pleasing cakes. And maybe the odd drop of wine, calvados, cognac or armagnac. If only ....

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  4. The cake sounds lovely - and maybe not entirely authentic, but perfectly delectable none the less. I'm a first time visitor to your blog and am looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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  5. My kind of cake - it sounds delicious!

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  6. Another one I must try, Phil, and I am greatly enjoying your tour of French cakes.

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  7. I really like the sound of this and I will certainly try your recipe. It sounds delicious to me and I have all the ingredients here at home. Thanks. Have a great Sunday Diane

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  8. Dear Phil, That sounds delightful. I would certainly take your recommendation to soak this cake. Oh, I am looking forward to cooking!
    Thank you for your visits and for your encouragement. Catherine

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  9. Your tour des gateaux francaise is not and never will be annoying. Indeed, long may it continue. I've learnt so much from it already. I do like hazelnuts, so I expect this lovely light hazelnut cake wouldn't last long with me.

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  10. This lovely little cake cries out for fresh fruit and that cream anglais .... so very simple and delicious.

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  11. Love hazelnuts and this cake has so much promise for me :) look forward to trying out, thanks Phil.

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  12. If you're going to do something properly Phil then you should. And if that means the grand tour of French cakes will be long, then that's the way it has to be. What a chore!

    This looks a lovely cake. And Frangelico is lovely too. Their coming together could only be a roaring success!

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