Brittany is well-known for its butter -- as is this small Breton cake, which uses eight ounces of butter to nine ounces of flour. You can quickly whirl together its five ingredients in a food processor. Greg Patent first tried Gâteau Breton on vacation in San Francisco and was enchanted by its slightly chewy texture and Wall Of Butter wallop.
You will need an 8-inch round cake pan; other sizes will not work.
*2 cups of all-purpose flour (spooned into a 1-cup dry measure to overflowing and leveled with a straight edge; 9 ounces by weight)
*8 ounces (2 sticks) of salted or unsalted butter, refrigerator temp or slightly softened, depending on method
*¾ cup of sugar
*6 large egg yolks
*1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract or ½ teaspoon vanilla paste
1. Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of cooking parchment or waxed paper. No need to butter the paper.
2. To make the dough in a food processor, put the flour and sugar into the work bowl. Process for 5 seconds to combine. Cut the cold butter into ½ inch cubes and add to the work bowl. Pulse about 5 times for 1 second each to cut the butter into small pieces no larger than ¼-inch or so. Add 5 egg yolks and the vanilla and pulse rapidly 10 to 15 times (more or less) until a stiff dough comes together.
3. Remove the dough from the machine and work it briefly between your hands to form a thick disk. If the dough sticks at all, flour your hands very lightly. Put the dough into the prepared pan and set a piece of plastic wrap over it. Press on the plastic to spread the dough into the pan. It should be evenly thick and reach right to the pan edge. Refrigerate about 20 minutes.
4. To bake the Gâteau Breton, mix the last yolk and 1 teaspoon of water in a small cup well with a fork. Remove the plastic wrap from the chilled cake and use a pastry brush to coat the top of the cake with the egg yolk. You may not have to use all the yolk. Try not to let any yolk run between the cake and the side of the pan. With a table fork, score the top of the Gâteau Breton in criss-crossing parallel lines.
5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake is a rich golden brown color. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the sides of the Gâteau to release, and unmold it onto the rack. Peel off the paper, cover with another rack, and invert to cool right side up. Wait a few hours before serving for the cake’s texture to compose itself.
Makes one 8-inch round cake, about 10 servings.
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