Lavender Gâteau Breton
by eat in my kitchen
This little Gâteau Breton looks so simple and innocent but there’s a rich and buttery depth behind its golden crust that can easily compete with any lavish layer cake. I admire the sweet French cuisine for mastering the art of getting the most out of a piece of butter, a few eggs and some sugar and flour. This is minimalism brought to perfection in baking.
I chose this Brittany butter cake as it seemed the right recipe to try out my new homemade lavender sugar. A spongy shortbread, that’s how I would describe it, sprinkled with the most fragrant purple sugar, it sounded so good and it tasted even better. Frances Bissell, the woman behind the wonderful baking book The Floral Baker, is a genius mind responsible for many wonderful sweet and savoury creations refined with lavender, jasmine, rose petals, orange flower water, wild garlic or saffron. Her recipe collection is a journey through nature’s opulence, I felt so inspired by the way she introduces new flavours and offers fresh combinations that I had never heard of or thought about. I already decided that her Saffron and Rosewater Biscuits, Lavender and Tomato Tart and the Lavender White Chocolate Caramel Cake will soon make an appearance on my kitchen table!
My first practical approach to her book was the preparation of lavender sugar. Frances suggests 10 parts sugar and 1 part lavender flowers (L. augustifolia, Hidcote), I trust this experienced baker so I decided to fill a huge jar up to the brim. My new pantry project satisfied me instantly, every couple days, I took it off the shelf to shake my flowery treasure and imagined all the recipes it would refine in future. Pure relaxation in a jar!
After a few weeks the time had come to give it a go and I think I couldn’t have had a better start to my flower project. I didn’t mix the sugar in in the dough, I just sprinkled the purple flowers and sugar on top of my warm Gâteau Breton and it instantly spread its beautiful aroma. It looked stunning, it took a French baking classic to another level and my boyfriend, who isn’t usually too fond of lavender, couldn’t get enough of it (like me)!
Lavender Gateau Breton
Mind that you prepare the lavender sugar a few days (or even weeks) in advance, 10 parts sugar and 1 part organic lavender flowers (L. augustifolia, Hidcote), you’ll only need a couple teaspoons for this cake.
For a 25cm / 10″ tart pan you need
plain flour 200g / 7oz
baking powder 3/4 teaspoon
a pinch of salt
butter, soft, 150g / 5 1/4oz
organic egg yolks 3 plus 1 egg
sugar 125g / 4 1/2oz
For the glaze
organic egg yolk 1
water 1 tablespoon
For the topping
lavender sugar 1-2 teaspoons, to taste
Set the oven to 170°C / 340°F (fan-assisted oven) and butter the tart pan.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, the egg and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the butter and mix with the hooks of your mixer, add the flour and continue mixing until combined. Scrape the dough into the tart pan (it will be sticky) and even out the surface a little. Whisk the egg yolk and water for the glaze and brush the top of the dough. Scratch a diamond pattern into the surface (as you can see in the pictures), mind that you scratch deep enough, otherwise the pattern will melt away while baking. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of lavender sugar (without the flowers) and bake for 25-28 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle the warm cake with a little more lavender sugar (this time with the flowers as well).