The word gâteau always brings me back to my years of learning French throughout all of middle school and high school and evokes such fond memories of my stays in France with my family’s close friends, who happen to have started out as my host family when I did an exchange program at the tender age of 10. May will mark the 20 year mark since that first trip and the beginning of a wonderful friendship between two completely random families who would never have otherwise met if it hadn’t been for this program.

My French tongue has faded some since my last visit in 2000 but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the desire to continue to learn all that is French. I read blogs of expatriots who live in France and I still yearn to be strolling the streets of Paris, ducking into a sidewalk café for a crossaint and a demi-tasse, browsing artists’ works in Montparnasse or Montmartre, lunching on a baguette and brie with a glass of wine in Jardin des Tuileries, or of course perusing through one of the hundreds of French bakeries that make France so famous for it’s baked goodies. This weeks’ Dorie recipe was chosen by Nikki of Crazy Delicious and comes from Hélène Samuel, a French restauranteur, who used to sit in front of the oven (her very first oven while living in Paris) and watch this cake bake as her source of entertainment. Le gâteau itself, as Dorie describes is “plain looking but profoundly flavorful, moist, pleasantly dense, and definitively chocolate…”; a description that perfectly matches how this cake itself turned out.

I’ll admit that I didn’t run out and buy a 9″ springform pan for this recipe so I’m not entirely sure if the cake turned out as “puffy” as it should have (with 5 egg white folded into the batter) while using a regular ol’ 9″ cake pan. Since this was another TWD recipe without a picture to guide me, I guess I’ll have to wait and see how everyone else’s cakes turned out. Regardless of how it looked, it tasted FANTASTIC. And fudgy it was! I used 60% bittersweet chocolate and was slightly worried about the bitter-factor but it was the right decision for me and I would use the same percentage should I make the cake again, which I’m sure I will. The top cracked, just as Dorie said it would and because I used a cake pan, my cake resembled more of an oversized molten lava cake than a pretty, smooth-sided cake turned out of a springform pan.

As for the glaze however, I didn’t have such great luck. I’m not really sure what happened but after I added the corn syrup, the melted chocolate-cream mixture separated from the syrup like oil and water. It was very strange and I couldn’t bear to ruin a perfectly good cake with a mixture that resembled more of an sloppy chocolate mess than a chocolate glaze; powdered sugar and whipped cream worked just fine for me.

In spite of the glaze issue, I thoroughly enjoyed this cake; both making it and eating…and yes, I had a piece for breakfast yesterday morning. Hats off to Nikki for a great choice this week! You can see how the over 30 other members of our growing TWD group did this week by visiting their blogs here.

Almost-Fudge Gâteau

source: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

  • 5 large eggs
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet cacao chips)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons coffee or water
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt

For the Glaze (optional)

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Getting Ready:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan (I used a 9″ cake pan), line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
  2. Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.
  3. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that’s fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.
  5. Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the butter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.
  6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes (35 minutes was perfect for my oven), or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

To Make the Optional Glaze: First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.

Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake – it will just add to its charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you’re impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Yields: 12-16 slices

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Leave a Comment

  • Mary
    February 19, 2008 at 1:18 PM

    beautiful gateau!

  • April
    February 19, 2008 at 1:38 PM

    It looks as it should! It looks great!

  • theflouredapron
    February 19, 2008 at 1:53 PM

    Oooh, your gateau turned out beautifully. I think most people ended up with a pretty dense cake, so no need to worry that it didn’t puff all that much. This was such a delicious recipe!

  • ~Amber~
    February 19, 2008 at 1:55 PM

    Your Gateau looks absolutely divine! Great job Tara.

  • slush
    February 19, 2008 at 1:56 PM

    It looks perfect! I used 70% and wished I had gone a tad easier. Was too sharp for me. I am so glad you loved it. Your photos are gorgeous as well.

  • Elizabeth
    February 19, 2008 at 2:04 PM

    Tara, it looks wonderful! I’m so envious of your experiences with France, I have yet to go, but it’s certainly on the list of places!

  • Joy the Baker
    February 19, 2008 at 2:22 PM

    Your cake is just stunning!

  • Marie
    February 19, 2008 at 2:35 PM

    What a gorgeous looking gateaux. Mine was really fudgy and dense as well. I loved it!

  • chelley325
    February 19, 2008 at 3:06 PM

    Looks fantastic! And what wonderful experiences you had growing up! I am jealous 🙂

  • lemontartlet
    February 19, 2008 at 5:34 PM

    It’s really surprised me how uniform everyb[dy’s cakes have turned out, no matter what problems we ran into. That’s proof of a perfect recipe if you ask me, and yours is another example of how gorgeous this cake looks. Nice job!

  • Madam Chow
    February 19, 2008 at 8:46 PM

    Your gateau turned out the way it should – 9 inch cake pan is just fine, and I’m so glad it tasted good!

  • Sweet and Savory Eats
    February 19, 2008 at 9:30 PM

    Looks great! It took my glaze a few minutes to “come together.” I thought the same thing you did at first, but kept whisking and it all melded together. I loved the glaze so you may want to give it another go.

  • Erin
    February 19, 2008 at 9:41 PM

    Looks beautiful! I put powdered sugar on top too! Sounds like you had some great experiences growing up. I would love to go to France someday!

  • Jhianna
    February 19, 2008 at 11:25 PM

    Like Sweet and Savory Eats said, the glaze was probably my favorite part of this.

    I like the powdered sugar on yours though, and I may have liked mine better if I’d used all 60% instead of half 70%. (It was all I had left when I went foraging in the pantry.)

    Beautiful job!

  • Jaime
    February 20, 2008 at 2:33 AM

    your powdered sugar looks beautiful on top 🙂 good job!

  • Nikki57
    February 20, 2008 at 2:48 AM

    It looks great!

  • Beth G.
    February 20, 2008 at 2:49 AM

    Yum!! I went with the powdered sugar too! It looks delicious!

  • Melissa L.
    February 20, 2008 at 3:10 AM

    Looks amazing! I love that you included the prep and cook times – very helpful! Great pics!!

  • Kate
    February 20, 2008 at 6:26 AM

    I took french all through high school. I always think I’ve forgotten, until a trip to France brings it all back!

  • Peabody
    February 21, 2008 at 6:11 AM

    Sorry about your glaze.

  • Tartelette
    February 21, 2008 at 7:57 PM

    That’s the kind of cake my Mamie Paulette used to make us on suday afternoons. Easy, rich and so comforting…like brownies on crack as my husband says! Tu as fait du tres bon travail!

  • Melissa
    February 22, 2008 at 1:27 AM

    Love the story behind this!

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