Breton Buckwheat Cake Recipe

A deliciously dense, buckwheat flour cake that can be baked off in a tart or cake pan. From David Lebovitz's new book, The Sweet Life in Paris.

Breton Buckwheat Cake

I thought we might chat a bit about books today. I wonder if you love reading as much as I do? As a kid, my mom would take me to the local library every couple of weeks and allow me to fill a boot box with whatever books I could carry. I had a little light that clipped onto the headboard of my bed, and I would read most nights until glow from my room was the only light in the house. Who doesn't love the way a good book can take you to places you've never been, or even better, introduce you to people from times you'd never know otherwise. Anyhow, it is a habit that stuck, and I'm always on the lookout for the next page-turner. Right now I'm reading Richard Price's Lush Life, Camus' The Plague, and David's The Sweet Life in Paris. A bit manic, I know. But seriously, 178 pages into The Plague, one welcomes a solid dose of Lebovitz-style humor. And the great recipes don't hurt either.

Buckwheat Cake Recipe

When a friend asked me to bring dessert to dinner the other night, I cheated and peeked ahead at the recipes in the back of David's book, and discovered this Breton Buckwheat Cake with Fleur de Sel. It's a simple, deliciously dense, buckwheat flour cake that can be baked off in a tart or cake pan. You'll love it. You can serve it with any sort of seasonal fruit compote. I imagine a dollop of floppy whipped cream would be great - or, do as I did and whisk a splash of maple syrup into greek yogurt on your way out the door and serve that on top (or to the side) of each slice.

Buckwheat Cake Recipe

Recipes and cookbooks aside, I was thinking it might be fun to trade some book suggestions. I imagine everyone needs summer reading ideas. So, what is the best book you've read in the past year? Off the top of my head I can recommend The White Tiger, The Other, and The Talented Mr. Ripley. On deck I have: Beautiful Children, Wide Sargasso Sea (re-read), City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi, and Baltasar and Blimunda. Looking forward to your suggestions (particularly fiction). -h

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Breton Buckwheat Cake with Fleur de Sel

I made David's recipe verbatim, but for those of you who are interested, I imagine you could experiment with various flours - for ex: whole wheat pastry flour in place of the all-purpose flour. Or another kind of flour in place of buckwheat flour (teff?) - for an entirely different cake. David notes that if you don't have buckwheat flour, you can substitute one cup (140g) of all-purpose flour for the buckwheat. Also, if you don't have fleur de sel, use a light tasting sea salt, one that is not finely ground, or in a pinch kosher salt will work too. Well wrapped in plastic, this cake with keep for up to four days at room temperature. You can also wrap it in plastic, and then in foil and freeze it for up to two months.

For the cake:
7/8 cup (140g) buckwheat flour
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/3 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 pound (240g) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup (200g) sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum

For the glaze
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon milk

Butter a 9 or 10-inch (25-cm) tart pan with a removable bottom or a 9-inch/23 cm springform cake pan). Preheat the oven to 350F degrees (180C).

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

In the bowl of a standing mixer or by hand, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the 4 egg yolks and whole egg with the vanilla and rum with a fork, then gradually dribble the egg mixture into the batter while beating. If using an electric mixer, beat on high speed so the butter gets really airy.

Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top as flat as possible with an offset metal or plastic spatula.

Make a glaze by stirring the single yolk and milk together with a fork, then brush it generously all over the top. (You may not use it all, but use most of it.) Take a fork and rake it across the top in three parallel lines, evenly space; then repeat starting from a slightly different angle to make a criss-cross pattern.

Crumble the remaining 1/3 teaspoon salt over the gateau with your fingers and bake for 45 minutes (hs note: you might want to place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack below your tart in case it leaks at all - also, don't over-bake or it will be on the dry side - start checking after 35 minutes or so). Let cool completely before unmolding.


Reprinted with permission from The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. Broadway (May 5, 2009)

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Beautiful Children is a great book, I read it a few months ago. Special Topics In Calamity Physics is another great one, I can't remember the author at the moment. That cake looks great! HS: I have beautiful Children right here on my desk.

Joanne

i second madelaine's recommendation of maile meloy. great author! i also really enjoyed "white teeth" by zadie smith and very much enjoyed "fall on your knees" by ann-marie macdonald. i didn't realize it was an oprah book club choice, but either way, don't let that ruin your judgment! ;)

emily

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy is an old fashion adventure. Across the Nightingale floor by LIan Hearn is a wonderful and exciting medieval adventure. The Secret Lives of Bees is a beautiful book if you haven't read it. Thank you for such a wonderful food blog. You have educated me and helped me take steps to healthier eating and have adventures in trying new foods. I really wouldn't have tried any of you recipes if it wasn't for you luscious photography.

Brigette

This looks delicious! I love a dense savory cake. Just finished Netherland--especially fun for anyone living in NYC, beautifully and classically written. I'm in the middle of French Women Don't Get Fat which I LOVE! I'm learning to appreciate all kinds of new flavors and foods, and eat only what I enjoy. And I'm moving on to Bonfire of the Vanities for a good summer read :)

Sarah B

Oh, gosh. That buckwheat cake looks like a winner...and as for my favorite book, it's Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. The characters were so developed that I had dreams about them after I finished the book. And it's the only book I've ever read twice, because I loved it so much!

Emily

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh House for Mister Biswas by V.S. Naipaul brooklyn follies by paul auster atmospheric disturbances by rivka galchen frenchman's creek by Daphne Du Maurier- as well as rebecca in defense of food- michael pollan

Charlotte

"Shadow of the Wind by Carol Ruiz Zafon." I posted that, but his name is Carlos. Oops!

Callie

Shadow of the Wind by Carol Ruiz Zafon. A Spanish author, I have recommended it to several people of varying tastes and everyone has loved it. It's unputdownable. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. She says things that you've felt and never put words to. Doris Lessing in general is so great. Thanks for the great post as always!!

Callie

Not fiction, but I read Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit in December and January and it is really smart and wonderful -- all about walking and its history, from biological/evolutionary stuff to social/intellectual/literary stuff. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog by Dylan Thomas (short stories) is delicious, just so well-phrased all the way through, wonderful to read bits and pieces of aloud. Life: A User's Manual by Georges Perec is also really excellent -- the interlinked stories of the inhabitants of one apartment building in Paris, but also lots more than that -- puzzles and games and lists and painterly detail and oh, it is so good!

Heather

Really interesting recipe. I was a reading fiend as a child. My mom would take me to the library every week over summer vacation, I'd get a huge pile of books and finish them all within a couple days!

ashley (sweet & natural)

Really interesting recipe. I was a reading fiend as a child. My mom would take me to the library every week over summer vacation, I'd get a huge pile of books and finish them all within a couple days!

ashley (sweet & natural)

I agree with LoverFeast on Pillars of the Earth. I'd also add Sleeping Naked Is Green (not just because I'm a main character in this hilarious memoir- no I didn't write it), The Glass Castle, an old favourite Like Water For Chocolate, and Tuesdays With Morrie. The cake looks delicious

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)

I agree with LoverFeast on Pillars of the Earth. I'd also add Sleeping Naked Is Green (not just because I'm a main character in this hilarious memoir- no I didn't write it), The Glass Castle, an old favourite Like Water For Chocolate, and Tuesdays With Morrie. The cake looks delicious

Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen)

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett...it's about the cathedral builders. One of the best books I've read in a while (mind you, I have five kids and don't get to read as much as I'd like!) It is a really good book! I read it back when I was in college - a friend loaned it to me, and I really enjoyed it. It has been so long, I wonder what I would think now.

LoveFeast

Looks delicious! I've read some great books recently: - "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, a novel about women in the South during the 1960s. - "Mister Pip" by Lloyd Jones, a novel that draws upon and reinvents Dickens' "Great Expectations" on a war-torn Caribbean Island - "The Monsters of Templeton," another novel that plays with its literary forebears, set in a fictionalized version of Cooperstown "Out Stealing Horses" is on deck for me.

Jodi

this looks great! can't wait to try it.

b

This looks yummy - I've tried a similar recipe in Nigella Lawson's how to be a domestic godess, and it was lush. I'd recommend Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Gosht, first in a trilogy set in india/china during the opium wars of the 1800s. Absolutely fascinating read!

jules

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is one of the best books I've read recently. It's a great little mystery told from the perspective of a 12 year old genius girl who loves chemistry. If you enjoy Alexander McCall Smith novels, you'll like this one.

Deb Schiff

"Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon (and the rest of the series, if you like that...) is a good summer read. It's hard to place into a genre... it was recommended to me because I enjoy historical fiction, but it has some seriously juicy scenes that would fit well in romance. If you like historical fiction, then "Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End" by Ken Follett are excellent. I also love the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Philip Pullman, which is actually in the children's section, but the themes are definitely grown up.

Darcy

Wholeheartedly second Brittany's recommendation of the Thursday Next series - not the *most* cereberally challenging, but seriously fun and filled with literary allusions. And if you haven't read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon yet, it is high time to do so - it was not the Pulitzer winner of 01 for nothing.

Megs

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