Still warm

A few weeks ago, my friend Tracy gave me three dozen eggs and a tart pan. Today I repaid her the best way I know how: with a Breton Buckwheat Cake baked with six of her eggs in my brand new pan.

The cake is a stunner. I made my first one a few days ago in an effort to work my way through some of the buckwheat flour in our freezer from last year's grain CSA, and it certainly did the trick. We worked through our cake FAST. The fact that it was only vaguely sweet and very eggy and moist and made with whole grain flour meant that we justified a little sliver after breakfast and two more in the wake of dinner and lunch. 

The recipe comes from David Lebovitz, via 101cookbooks. I believe it is French. If it's not, it's everything French cakes tend to be—not overly sugary, simple to make, and deeply satisfying without being too rich. There's also no frosting—it feels very much like an every day peasant cake.

The excitement is in the sea salt that you sprinkle into the batter and then on the top just before you bake. It brings out all the nuances of the flavors that go into the cake—the undertones of dark rum, a hint of vanilla, the toothsome, earthy taste of buckwheat. I used light brown sugar in place of granulated, which I think gave it even more depth. 

After we devoured ours I made it again and delivered it to Tracy, still warm in a greasy paper sack. Thank you Tracy, again.


adapted from David Lebovitz, The Sweet Life in Paris

We got buckwheat last year with our grain CSA, and I milled it all into flour. For reasons I don't fully understand it is much lighter than most buckwheat flours—in color at least—but otherwise, it seems the same. Either way, it's delicious in this cake, which is moist, eggy, and only a little bit sweet. Think of it as a snacking cake.

for the cake:
1 scant cup buckwheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/3 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum 

for the glaze:
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon milk

Grease a 9- or 10-inch tart pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the buckwheat flour, the all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the cinnamon.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg yolks one by one and then add the whole egg. Add the vanilla and rum in a slow dribble, beating the whole time. Beat on high speed until the mixture is very airy.

Finally, mix in the dry ingredients until the batter just comes together. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top as flat as possible (it is a thick dough so this takes a few swipes).

Make the glaze by whisking together the egg yolk and milk in a small cup. Brush it generously across the top, then take a fork and rake it across the batter to create three parallel lines in one direction and three in another to make a criss-cross pattern. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 teaspoon of salt over the cake. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the inside of the cake is still moist. 

Note: be careful not to overcook, as the cake seems like the type to dry out.


tracy said...

good lord this cake is great!!!! I'm afraid to admit how much we ate this afternoon, but I do have to tell all your readers to make this cake now, and make it often...I sure will.

Teresa said...

You know that haughty thing I said "no thanks, I'm slimming." Well, I didn't really mean it. So while you were burping Sally or something, I ate a piece. A sliver, really. And it's haunting me. The rum plus the buckwheat explains a lot about a warm, earthy spice I couldn't identify.

Um, can I borrow a cup of flour? Buckwheat, please.

Elspeth said...

Tracy, I am so glad you like it! We will certainly be making it again and again...that is once we get our hands on some more buckwheat flour.

And Teresa, that's the bad news! This cake did the trick so well that what seemed like a never-ending buckwheat supply is now gone. Drat! Next time, I'll get enough to share.


A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Thank you so much for posting this cake. I had saved the recipe and finally had a chance to make it. It's every bit as wonderful as Tracy and Teresa suggest. Now, if only I could restrain myself from eating multiple slices in a sitting ...

Elspeth said...

oh, i never could restrain myself from doing that. but if you focus on the whole grains and the eggs, you can almost think of this as health food.

i'm so glad you gave it a try!

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