Sunday, 19 August 2018

Gâteau au Chocolat de Nancy

I have it on good authority that this is an ancient type of gâteau from Nancy in north-eastern France although I have to confess that I couldn't find a recipe that's older than the 1960s (due to poor research, no doubt).

It's one of those classic flourless cakes which, in this case, is enriched with chocolate. There are some recipes that do add a little flour, which will help to stabilise the cake but I'm hoping that this flourless version is as light and pure in flavour as the real thing should be. It's a recipe that's easy to remember. Essentially it's equal amounts of each ingredient (if you consider the ground almonds and potato flour as a single entity) plus eggs.

This is not the only type of cake that you might find described as a Gâteau de Nancy. The citizens of Nancy seem to have a number of treats at their disposal from large meringue confections to macarons and cakes flavoured with the local plum liqueur. They are obviously wise and happy people.
Gateau de Nancy
A small slice is lovely with coffee but the cake really comes into its own as a dessert served with a little crème anglaise or crème fraîche and maybe a few choice raspberries.

125 g unsalted butter, softened, plus a little extra for the tin
125 g dark chocolate
125 g caster sugar
90 g ground almonds
35 g potato flour, sifted
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Line the base and butter a 20 cm round cake tin - a springform tin is ideal if you have one.

Melt the chocolate either in a microwave or in a bowl over simmering water. Put the melted chocolate in the bowl of a mixer (make sure it's not too hot) and add the butter. Beat together thoroughly. While that's happening, separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks into the butter and chocolate mixture one at a time. Add the sugar and beat in thoroughly. Add the ground almonds and mix in.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Stir a couple of tablespoons of the whisked egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it a little and then carefully fold in the rest of the egg whites together with the potato flour.

Put the mixture into the prepared tin and gently level the top. Bake for around 25 minutes. Check that the cake is ready with a knife point in the centre. The middle of the cake should still be moist and you may see a few sticky crumbs on the knife but it shouldn't be liquid.

Remove the cake from the tin as soon as possible: leaving the cake in the tin seems to increase the chance of the top cracking and sinking too much. The cake will be fragile so be careful. Allow to cool on a rack. Many bakers seem to sprinkle this cake with icing sugar but I've noticed that bakers from Nancy don't sprinkle and so I haven't either in a belated and haphazard attempt at authenticity.
Gateau de Nancy
I feel like a bit of an outsider in the world of blog link-ups these days and so I don't usually take part. But this month Tin and Thyme is hosting the last ever We Should Cocoa link-up and so, for old times' sake, I'm submitting this cake. Over the years We Should Cocoa has been the home of many very fine, very chocolatey recipes and I'm wishing it a fond farewell.