mini breton cakes
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Breton butter cake, or gateau breton is one of the best things to come out of northern France. The cake is a giant shortbread filled with jam or preserve or crème pâtissière, only less crunchy, softer, flakier and more buttery.
Made with egg yolks only, as opposed to its basque counterpart, with golden swirls or criss-cross on top, it’s sold all over Brittany alongside galettes sables, kouign-amann and far breton. Totally delicious all of those – it makes you wonder that compared to those confections, the northern neighbours across the Channel have only come up with stodgy scones…
Breton butter cakes come in full size giant wheels and smaller, cookie sized discs. That’s what I made, using little tartelette tins about 4 inch each. And if you’re so inclined, cut them into quarters and have with clotted cream for afternoon tea, thus reaching across the Channel dessertwise.
mini breton cakesServings: 4 mini breton gateauxTime: about an hour plus chilling
- 125g caster sugar
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 3 egg yolks plus one for the topping
- 125g softened slightly salted butter
- about half a jar of good jam
1. In a large bowl mix the flour with the baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the 3 egg yolks and mix well (you can do it in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, or with a hand held mixer).
2. Add the butter in small pieces and mix well again until it comes together.
3. Turn onto a board or work surface and form a ball. Divide in two, wrap both pieces in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Put a baking sheet on the middle rack.
5. Prepare 4 tartelette tins, about 9cm (4in) in diameter. Remove the pastry from the fridge and divide each piece into quarters. Bash them with a rolling pin to flatten, then roll out to a roughly round disc, a little larger than 9cm. Use a cookie cutter to shape the disc.
6. Press the four rounds into the tartelette tins to line them to the rim. Chill in the fridge while you similarly roll out the lids.
7. Spoon about 3 tbsp. of jam into each case and cover with the lids. Press the pastry lid around the rims to seal.
8. Beat the remaining egg yolk with a tablespoon of water and brush over the pastry; scrape crisscross patterns on the egg wash with a fork if you like.
9. Place the cases on the preheated baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until golden on top. Cool in the cases, remove carefully to store.