Pastis Landais

I've already given a recipe for the cake known as a pastis (or croustade) from the Pyrenees but, more than five years later, I thought I really ought to get around to a recipe for the pastis from the Landes just down the road. (Admittedly, it's quite a long road and densely lined with pine trees towards the end). In the Pyrenees, the cake is usually made with baking powder but in the Landes yeast is used as the raising agent. It could make an interesting alternative to certain ubiquitous Italian cakes at this time of year. 

The flavourings in the cake might seem a bit elaborate, but they're my attempt to recreate the complex flavour of the original. It will still make a fine cake if you want to leave one or more of the flavourings out - just don't boast about it in the Landes. I'm perfectly happy to have a slice of this just about anytime with tea or coffee but it's lovely with a generous dollop of crème anglaise or yoghurt and maybe a little fruit.

As ever, don't expect this recipe to be truly authentic - it's just my interpretation. And, in case you were wondering, this pastis has nothing to do with the drink of the same name other than some obscure etymological derivation that I can't really explain.

A stand mixer isn't essential for this recipe, but it does make life a lot easier since there's a quite a lot of beating involved. A brioche tin is ideal (but not essential) for baking this cake and the one I use has a diameter of 20 cm (at its widest) and a capacity of around 1.25 litres. I used dried yeast this time but, if you want to use fresh, dissolve around 12g of fresh yeast in the warm milk instead. 

100ml milk, warmed but not too hot

2 tsp dried yeast (or around 12g fresh yeast)

3 eggs

80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp dark rum

2 tsp orange blossom water

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g golden caster sugar

250g plain flour 

2 tbsp vanilla sugar (or use pearl (nibbed) sugar or just plain sugar)

Stir the yeast in the warmed milk until dissolved. Break the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and yeast mixture, the melted butter, lemon zest, rum, orange blossom water, vanilla extract and the golden caster sugar. Beat them all together.

Add the flour gradually while continuing to beat. Once all the flour is incorporated, continue beating for 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile, butter the brioche tin. The mixture will remain quite loose, so don't worry if it seems too thin for cake making. 

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, cover with a cloth and leave somewhere warm to rise for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the vanilla sugar.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 - 35 minutes. When it's ready, a cake tester or knife should come out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so before turning out and cooling completely on a rack.


  1. I usually shy away from any recipes where the ingredients have to be left to rise but would make an exception for this one - it sounds delicious.

    1. I must admit that I don't make too many yeast-based cakes but they do make a nice alternative now and then and I promise that this is pretty straightforward. I can lose patience with the time it takes to let mixtures rise, but it was only an hour while I went and had lunch. I know that it's supposed to be good for the soul or something, but I do get a bit bored by anything that needs kneading by hand but, happily, there's none of that in this recipe.

    2. Of course! I didn't cotton on to the fact that there is no kneading involved! I leave all the kneading to my OH, who in turn usually delegates it to our ancient Panasonic bread machine!
      I shall definitely try this as soon as I can get my hands on the right tin!

  2. Oh Phil, this looks perfect for me. I'll make it by hand because I love making yeast dough by hand. This would be perfect with a cup of tea, so you can bet you'll be seeing a version of this (my interpretation of your interpretation of ...) before long (though I only blog once a month now). I'll resist the urge to buy a brioche pan and make-do with something I already have. Can't wait!

    1. Believe me, the brioche pan really isn't essential, it's just a way of making it look a bit like the round originals I've seen. It'll taste nice whatever the shape. Of course, once I'd got a brioche pan, I wanted to use it for everything.


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