I didn't intend to make the least Cinco de Mayo recipe possible for my day after post, but somehow I did. This post is most decidedly French...maybe I should have saved it for Bastille Day. If you do a search online for Breton Butter Cake almost all of your results are going to be for a different Breton Butter Cake, the Kouign Amann. That's a whole different creature from this butter cake. The Kouign Amann is a yeasted dough, much like a puff pastry, that's baked in a round and contains an absolutely obscene amount of butter. And, yes, it's on my list to make when I have a whole day to tackle all the dough folding.
This Breton Butter Cake is more like a cross between a pound cake and a shortbread. The dough is very cookie-like and the cake is very dense. It's as simple as simple can be flavor-wise and it couldn't be more delicious. My favorite part of this cake is the way the final product looks. Once you get this cake in the pan, brush it with egg and then make a crosshatch pattern on the top with the tines of a fork. It comes out of the oven all shiny and fancy. It looks like you spent hours and you really just whipped it up during the commercial breaks during Breaking Bad.....
Whip up you butter and sugar until it's fluffy, fluffy, fluffy. Be sure to use decent quality butter for this cake, since the butter is the flavor in this cake.
This is basically a cakey cookie dough, so don't freak out when you just chunk the wad of dough into the pan.
Either barely dampen your fingers or use a spatula to press the dough into the pan. It should be fairly, but not necessarily perfectly even. Then you pop it in the fridge to rest for a few minutes.
Brush it with some beaten up egg. You can get a little aggressive with the brush to help smooth out the top of the cake a little more. The go to town with the tines of a fork and make a crosshatch pattern.
It doesn't have to be perfect, it'll still look lovely. The bake and eat. If you have fresh strawberries, eat those with this cake and you will be transported to a whole other world. Really. I mean it.
Breton Butter Cake
makes one 9" cake
1 cup (2 sticks) good quality butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
6 egg yolks
2 3/4 cup flour
1/2 t salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350°. Cream the butter and sugar on medium until very light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, allowing each yolk to mix into the batter before adding the next one. Add the flour and salt and beat until just combined.
Transfer the batter to a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the batter into the pan with a spatula or with your fingers, slightly dampen your fingers first if you're using them. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Brush the top with the beaten egg and draw a crosshatch pattern with the tines of a fork. Brush again with the egg. Bake about 50 minutes, or until the cake is deep golden brown and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.