Ebie’s Gâteau Breton (Breton Cake)

This is my mother’s recipe.  Fiercely and proudly Afrikaans, her food was always heavily influenced by the French and we were nurtured on her own exquisite fusion of French and Cape cooking.  She paid little attention to cholesterol or calories when we were younger and allowed only her passion to guide her.  As my father’s health faded over the years, her cooking style changed too and it is only now that I realize that the passion was reserved only for him.  The day he died, she never cooked again. In her honour then, I share this with you.

It is dead easy and I have made dozens of my own versions, but this is the basic one and the most delicious.


475 g flour
475 g sugar
500 g salted butter
8 extra large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cognac (she used brandy or rum, but I prefer cognac)
2 tablespoons milk


Make a hollow in the sieved flour and add the sugar and the softened butter, mixing it well with your fingertips. Stir in 7 egg yolks, add the cognac until a smooth dough is formed.  It is perfectly acceptable to use a food processor instead.

Grease a springform cake pan with butter, dust with flour and press the dough evenly into the pan. Mix the remaining egg yolk with the milk and coat the surface of the dough with it, scoring a grid pattern with a fork.

Bake on a 200 C pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.
Please keep an eye on the oven the first time.

Serve with a chilled bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée because I feel that only Krug could possibly be good enough for this gâteau.  Since this is not the most expensive bottle in the Krug stable it will not break the bank.

After making a complete idiot of myself recently, I embarked upon a voyage of self education recently. To this end I attended a Champagne tasting only to learn that I had a lot to learn. Apparently loving wine and knowing what you like, is not good enough.  I will share this voyage with you when occasion calls for it, but I have so much to learn that the occasion will be rare. Krug has to be the non plus ultra of champagne and requires no learning, the taste provides an instant education. It is only always the best. The Grande Cuvée is made from Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Fermented in small oak barrels at first, it is later transferred to stainless-steel tanks which ensure optimum freshness.  Krug has belonged to Moët en Chandon since 2004 and has benefited hugely from the financial injection.  Henri Krug religiously ensures that all bottles are aged for six years before release.
I tasted citrus, followed by butter and hazelnuts – a perfect partner for the rich buttery cake with the spicy fruit of the Chardonnay certainly matching the depth of this great gateau!



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15 responses to “Ebie’s Gâteau Breton (Breton Cake)

  1. WOW! That cake looks scrumptious! I wish I could cook like that! You are truly gifted.

  2. Anybody can do this cake, honestly!

  3. Very touching story about your mother and told with beautiful simplicity. Thank you.
    My link is to a page I wrote about French brandies including cognac, if you’re interested.

  4. I am so interested – thanks so very much. I love it when I can learn from others and as you may have noticed, my knowledge of wine (and cognac falls under that category) is poor indeed.

    Thanks so much, it is most kind of you.

  5. Richard

    I love all your cakes, but this one takes the cake. Polenta cake is another favorite of mine. Thank you for keeping the sweet side of food alive. x

  6. It’s my pleasure! I try and do a cake every weekend. Lately there have been a lot of special days which is why there have been a little more.

    Next weekend, I will do a polenta cake, especially for you. 🙂

  7. Grey Roger

    Automatically generated and possibly related how does Slashfood’s Lobiani, Georgian bean bread even approach your mother’s recipe? Up to now this link has been interesting but this one didn’t take the cake

  8. I’ll have a look Grey. It took me a second or two to figure out what you meant, but thanks anyway. 🙂

    Will have a look – I am sure it’s related as many recipes are. I think of recipes as statements of love and records of memories which gives them all their own unique character.

    I could probably tell you where and when I found and made most of my recipes the first time – not to mention the history and where it originated right in the beginning of time.

  9. Grey Roger – I had a look and can assure you that it was automatically generated!!!

  10. Jacoba, a wonderfully (and deceptively) simple cake recipe with a truly touching story about your mother’s cooking for your father. The pairing with the champagne was a great idea. Yum, yum!

  11. It is so sad about my mother – that love was something wonderful to witness but life without my dad is completely senseless for her. It is terribly sad.

  12. I love Gateau Breton, it’s such an amazing cake. Yours looks magnificent.

  13. cristina

    I absolutely loooooove breton cakes. I ate them for the first time in Brittany 2 months ago. I brought like 4 to my house and I just cannot get enough of those. The best cake ever!

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