I wanted to try out the Gateau Breton earlier, but for some reason you can find hazelnuts everywhere in Spain, but ground hazelnuts are a different story. I searched high and low (the Boqueria Market and Pakistani shops) and no beans. So I shelved the idea of Gateau Breton until I could get a hold of a food processor or already ground hazelnuts. Enter Berlin.
Oh Kaiser’s, how I love thee. Just a big old grocery store in Berlin but it’s cheap and it's got loads of stuff. I can ponder over the multiple Ritter Sport candy flavors (pfefferminz, cappuccino, praline, etc.) and they have little, almost powder-like hazelnuts in a handy package, Gateau Breton-ready. So I figured it was my perfect opportunity.
The good thing about Bon Appetit and Gourmet is that it’s all online, so I had only to search on epicurious.com and found the recipe immediately. Most of the reviews that I read said it was very dense and rich, it was like shortbread, it was buttery, all promises which were delivered upon making it. Some said to serve with fruit like strawberries, others said flavored whipped cream, or simply crème fraiche. I threw some Kahlua into a container of crème fraiche and I got a few pleased tasters who asked ‘did you make the cream? It’s delicious.’ No, no. That’s the store-bought part. But the cake was well-received too. The cool, smooth cream is a good livener to the dense, buttery gateau.
My one change? Put in more hazelnuts. The recipe only called for a ½ cup, which wasn’t nearly enough. I think the cake was perfect if you’re in the mood for something rich but simple, but the hazelnut didn’t come out enough. Next time I’d at least double it, putting in a cup or more, and taking away some flour. Other than that, perfect.
I’m posting the recipe straight from epicurious.com because the only change I made at the time was using regular sugar because I didn’t have vanilla sugar on hand.
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, husked
6 large egg yolks (preferably organic)
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, melted
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 large egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for glaze)
crème fraiche flavored with liquor (Kahlua, Frangelico, etc)
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F (170 C). Butter and flour 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and hazelnuts in processor; blend until nuts are finely ground but not pasty (or if you have already ground, just mix with a fork). Combine 6 egg yolks and remaining 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl; whisk until well blended and slightly thicker, about 2 minutes (do not use electric mixer). Whisk in hazelnut mixture. Gradually whisk in melted butter. Sift flour over batter; stir just until blended (batter will be thick; do not overmix or cake may be tough).Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top with offset spatula (layer will be thin). Brush top generously with egg glaze.
Using back of tines of fork, deeply mark crisscross pattern atop cake, marking 3 times across in 1 direction and 3 times in opposite direction (I’m guessing this was just for decoration, I did it lightly and it didn’t really matter. I served it with a big blob of crème fraiche on top anyways). Bake cake until deep golden on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes, then remove pan sides and cool cake completely.