Category Archives: Gâteau Battu

Making Gâteau Battu

For sheer simple beauty, there’s no beating (no pun intended) a slice of gâteau battu. The brioche family of breads is like that. They’re golden in color and can be baked in all sorts of elegantly shaped molds. Gâteau battu differs from brioche mainly in its flavor — which is significantly sweeter — and its texture which is extremely tender and moist. Especially when topped with custard, jam or some other sweet spread, it truly lives up to it’s designation as a cake (versus a bread). Start by making the sponge. Combine the yeast, egg and flour…

…and stir.

Let the mixture ferment for an hour until it’s nice and puffy (don’t worry about the grains of yeast on the surface, they’ll dissolve in the mixing step).

Combine the sponge with the rest of the ingredients (save for the butter) in a mixer with a dough hook attached. Knead for 5-7 minutes until the mixture comes together in a sticky dough that gathers around the hook yet still sticks to the bottom of the bowl.

Next add the soft butter about 2 tablespoons at a time until you’ve got a light, sticky dough.

Scrape it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for two hours…

…or until it looks like this:

Transfer the dough to a gâteau battu mold, tall brioche mold or even a standard 10″ loaf pan, where it will still work splendidly.

Let it rise an hour, until it’s about an inch below the lip of the form. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and set a rack on the lower middle of the oven.

Bake the gâteau for 50 minutes or so until it’s well browned on top. You can tent it with aluminum foil after about 40 minutes if it seems to be getting too brown.

It should rise about an inch and a half over the lip of the form. Cool it for at least two hours before slicing. It will actually keep very, very well left in the form unsliced for two or even three days. All that sugar and fat, donchaknow.

When you’re ready to serve, turn the beast on its side and cut it into half-inch slices.

Gâteau battu is traditionally served with simple custard slathered all over it. Jam is another excellent way to go.

These dainty little sandwiches have something else inside them.

Whichever way you go with this, it’s almost impossible to go wrong. Make any stale leftovers into French toast!

Filed under:  Gâteau Battu, Pastry | 26 Comments

Gâteau Battu Recipe

This isn’t the standard French method for making gâteau battu (“beaten cake” in English). Traditionally it’s made with fresh yeast using what some people call the “blitz method”, i.e. just throwing everything into the mixer all at once and turning it on. I’ve converted this to a dry yeast procedure on the assumption fresh yeast isn’t easy for most people to find. To compensate for the lack of a fresh, live culture, I’m using instead the sponge method, which gives the yeast a running start since it’ll eventually be confronted with lots of sugar and/or alcohol. I also add the butter in late, as you do if you’re making standard brioche. This creates both a fluffier texture and a higher rise. Omit this step if you’re a stickler for authenticity.

Oh and I should mention that gâteau battu is made in a special mold that looks like this:

You can find it on the internet. Sometimes it’s called a “tall brioche mold” though a standard large brioche mold is actually quite different. If you don’t have — or don’t want to buy — either one of them, you can still make a great gâteau battu in a standard 10″ loaf pan.

For the Sponge

1 egg
2 ounces (1/2 cup minus a tablespoon) flour
2 tablespoons milk
3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the Dough

7 egg yolks
7 ounces (1 1/2 cups minus a tablespoon) all-purpose flour
2.5 ounces (1/3 cup plus a teaspoon) sugar
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) milk
1 ounce brandy, optional, or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or orange extract)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) soft butter

Combine the sponge ingredients, stir them together with a fork, and let the sponge ferment for an hour. At that point put the sponge into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook along with the rest of the ingredients save for the butter. Knead for about five minutes, until the dough comes together into a sticky ball. If it doesn’t, add more milk a teaspoon at a time until it does. Alternately, if it’s too sticky, add a little flour to bring it together.

With the mixer running on medium, add the butter a piece at a time and knead about 30 seconds between additions. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container and let it rise for about two hours, until it’s close to double in size.

Butter a tall brioche mold and place the dough in it. Allow it to rise about one more hour, covered with a lightly moistened cloth. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for about 50 minutes until well risen and browned on top. Cool completely on a wire rack before turning out. Slice and serve with your choice of spread.

Filed under:  Gâteau Battu, Pastry | 22 Comments