A thought for my best friend – Cake of the crumb fairy for Chantal
Pensée pour ma meilleure amie – Gâteau de la fée aux miettes pour Chantal
I woke up this morning with a text message from my best friend in France, Chantal. Her message was “Impossible de t’appeler pour l’instant – Pense a toi – Ta Bichette qui t’aime” literally translated by “Cannot call you right now – Think of you – Your bichette who loves you”. I think I am giving quite a lot of private info here (I tend to be somehow reserved to talk about that kind of stuff) but I really miss her, especially all the girlfriend stuff we use to do while in France. So I figured I would make something that reminds me of her and just for her. She never checks out my blog because she does not understand English even though she is a great cook and loves to eat. Whenever I go home, we always keep a night out to try a new restaurant. Our two last picks were bad ones, so it ended up as a laughing party. The chef came out of the kitchen to talk to the guests and was all dirty, looked like he had a mud fight with a cow, beside the food was lukewarm borderline cold but still served with a bell-shaped cover “cloche” (usually to keep the heat). That was kind of the joke of the evening. I think it was the first time I wrote a bad review, especially for a restaurant that calls itself a “restaurant gastronomique”.
Chantal and I met when we were 15 and in high school together. We had the worst laughing “Crisis” in German class, our teacher was just very uptight, not friendly and had no sense of humor…and Chantal and I were always kicked out of the class due to our non-stop laughing fits (crises de fou rire). She kicked us out once because my shell earrings were making noise when I would move my head. How silly is that? I think some teacher really lack pedagogy and should be more friendly, that would motivate kids to learn. Besides, when not very appealing and pleasant to look at, a double dose of pedagogy is a MUST.
Chantal offered me last December a wonderful dessert book (she knows I am not a pastry chef) “Desserts et Délices de Lorraine” “Desserts and Delights from Lorraine”, It’s a very unusual book, most of the recipes don’t have quantities, they say “same amount of this, or double the amount of that”. The recipes are traditional, peasant and very very ancient rustic recipes from Lorraine dating from before 1700 when we still had a king (not that I care). No pictures, just cute cartoons. she knows I love unusual books and she could not have found a better one. I have a friend Ute from Germany coming for dinner and since Lorraine is bordering Germany, that will make her feel somehow home, well thinking about it, I hope not since she hates Germany very much, and home is not the place she wants to be.
This dessert has a brioche taste, since the ingredients are similar to a brioche and made with compressed yeast, but the twist is that there are poached plums in it (I had to substitute poached plums to preserved mirabelles, local Lorraine plums since I had none) and the cake is topped with a crumbly mixture. So technically it’s not really a brioche. I love it, and guess what? It is easy and on ne peut pas le rater (you cannot spoil this cake). So I will certainly make this again.
I used compressed yeast instead of the granulated one, never saw that before I came to the US. In France or Italy we all use the compressed yeast (levure de boulanger or levure de bière) which is fresh yeast, we call it “Baker’s yeast” or “Beer yeast”, because bakers (boulangers) and beer brewers (brasseurs) use it in either bread making or brewing. I love its soft texture, its smell and you’ll get top results for bread making or other types of dough. If you can’t find this yeast, I would use the dry kind.
Also the original recipe calls for 1 tsp cinnamon, but considering my relationship with cinnamon, I used vanilla powder instead. I’m sure cinnamon lovers will enjoy that addition.
Ingredients for 6-8
For the cake
- 8.8 oz (or 250 g) white flour
- 1 egg
- 0.88 oz (or 25 g) granulated sugar
- 2.26 oz (or 70 g) melted butter
- 2.36 fl oz (or 70 ml) milk
- 0.5 oz (or 15 g) compressed yeast or 1 dose of dry yeast
- poached fruits such as plums, peaches, etc…
- vanilla extract
For the crumbs
- 1.76 oz (or 50 g) flour
- 0.88 oz (or 25 g) almond meal
- 0.88 oz (or 25 g) granulated sugar
- 1 oz (or 30 g) soft butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla powder or cinnamon
Dissolve yeast in a little milk. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, egg, sugar, milk, melted butter, vanilla and yeast. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it turns into a nie a smooth consistency. Place in a container, cover with a towel, and let it rise in a warm area for about 30 minutes.
Bring a 2 cups of water to a boil with 2 tbs honey and add diced plums (1 1/2 inch pieces) for about 3 minutes. Drain.
In the meantime, mix all the crumb mixture together with your hands. Don’t make thick crumb like you would for a crumble, but thin instead.
Work the dough again, removing all the fermentation. Butter a deep dish pan, and spread dough with your hands in it. Add plums to the dough, making sure to press them down into dough and not leaving them on the surface. Add crumb mixture and let the cake rise again for an additional 30 minutes.
Cook in a pre-heated oven at 375f for 30 min.
Let it cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve lukewarm.
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