I spent a week or two at my grandpa’s during high school at one point. I was avoiding reality, and he needed someone to keep him company. At some point I went home to my parents and my four younger siblings, but he let me take a few things with me, the most important being my grandma’s cookbooks. To this day, they are one of my favorite possessions. I paged through them, looking at my grandma’s handwriting, finding her bookmarks, carefully placed in the pages. I read the recipes, tried them and somehow felt better about saying goodbye to her before I was ready.
If you’re curious what in the world a gâteau is, think of an extremely rich cake. It’s the kind of cake that makes you reach for a cup of coffee…or a glass of milk, if coffee just isn’t your thing. In my grandma’s cookbook, the out-of-print Best of Baking, this cake falls under the “Great Traditional Cakes” category. Wherever this is a traditional cake, I’m moving there. (Ignore the jam in there. I considered using it in the garnish and decided not to. It’s not there.)
You don’t really need all of those cookies. They were actually for a Viennese Chocolate Cake that I made right after the gâteau. You’ll only need one or two shortbread cookies. Pick your favorite.
I read somewhere that a traditional gâteau is made with almond flour instead of wheat-originated flour. This recipe calls for ground almonds and whole wheat flour.
I used my food processor to grind the almonds until there were no large chunks. Keep it on the “pulse” setting and be careful not to over-grind them. That would result in almond butter, and that’s not what we’re looking for.
Separate the yolks and the whites from three eggs.
Cream together softened butter and half of the sugar. (That’s a pretty bad picture. And then I forgot to take a picture of me adding the egg yolks, ground almonds and the…)
…melted chocolate. I don’t own a double boiler. We purchased new pans a year ago and I haven’t made it back and remembered to buy one. I mean to, but I don’t. Story of my life. I’ve been improvising with this bowl since then.
I had a helper in the kitchen today. Kiwi was very interested in doing all the steps, and she was also interested in taking the pictures. Then she was interested in eating the cake…which never happens. She hates cake, but I caught her eating this one.
Kiwi’s first duty was to beat the egg whites. I showed her how to go around the sides of the bowl so the mixture would be even. She did a fantastic job. Then we fold in the other sugar and the whole egg white mix gets folded into chocolate mix.
Then the whole wheat flour gets added and gently stirred in. Okay, folded, but she stirred – gently – more than anything else.
And we put all the chocolately goodness into a pan and into the oven.
Next? Melt more chocolate. This time I used Baker’s semisweet squares because I figured it was an easy way to measure the amount I was melting.
After your cake has cooled, move it to a wire rack and spread a very thin layer of chocolate on it.
Because it’s going to hold on this lovely almond paste you rolled out carefully. I used a paring knife to trim around the bottom of the cake. Press lightly across sides and surface to make sure the almond paste isn’t going anywhere.
I just kind of dumped my chocolate over the top and then spread it around. I let some drop down the sides and onto the piece of waxed paper I had used earlier while rolling out the almond paste.
I could have put just 12 almonds, one for each piece, but I’m glad I added the extra almonds. It accommodated those people that wanted to try both cakes I brought for the birthday party.
Now let the chocolate harden. We were in a bit of a hurry to get on the road, so I stuck the cake in the fridge uncovered for about 5 minutes to get it to set and make it easier to transport.
It kind of looks like a brownie, with character. A character-rich brownie.
Except it’s a cake.
A deliciously rich cake.