Gateau Creusois, like many French cakes, is found only in Creuse, its region of origin. During renovations of a monastery in the late 1960s, this recipe was found on parchment dating back to the 15th century. It was cooked on a flat tile, like those used at the time to roof the buildings. It makes a very easy and delicious Christmas or dinner party dessert, served with a raspberry coulis.
The secret is to not beat the egg whites as you do for pavlova. Originally the gateau would have been made with a fork, so do not beat any longer than advised as the gateau will rise too much and be dry.
I made two cakes and used the egg yolks to make the creme patissiere to sandwich them together. (Note: The recipe below is for one cake only.) I finished the gateau with a dusting of icing sugar and chopped hazelnut praline-coated nuts. The cakes freeze well and the custard can be made 4-5 days ahead of time and refrigerated until needed.
For the cake
|5||Egg whites, at room temperature (Main)|
|¾ cup||Caster sugar|
|¾ cup||Ground hazelnuts (Main)|
|½ cup||Flour, sifted|
|100 g||Butter, preferably unsalted, melted and cooled|
For the patissiere (makes 2 cups)
|1 ½ cups||Milk, bring to scalding point|
|1 tsp||Vanilla essence|
|2 Tbsp||Hazelnut liqueur, optional|
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To make the cake
- Heat the oven to 170C. Grease and line the base of a 23cm cake tin.
- Using an electric beater, beat the egg whites and sugar together on a medium speed for one minute. The mixture will be thick and smooth, like a thick pancake batter.
- Fold in the hazelnuts and flour. Once evenly blended, fold in the butter. Transfer to the prepared tin.
- Bake for around 20 minutes or until the cake is just golden and has come away from the edge of the tin. Cool for a few minutes before turning out on to a cake rack to cool. It does not rise greatly, but is very moist.
To make the patissiere
In a microwave-proof jug, whisk together the egg yolks, flour, sugar, milk and essence. Cook at 100 percent power for 1 minute. Whisk. Repeat at 30-60 second intervals until thick. Whisk in the liqueur if using. Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on to the custard and set aside to cool. Refrigerate until required.
Make and sandwich 2 cakes together with the patissiere and garnish with icing sugar and hazelnut-praline coated nuts. Note: The recipe above makes only 1 cake.