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)

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Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Unaccustomed Earth'. All of her book are delicious, this is her newest. She is lyrical and beautiful. It's so easy to get lost in her writing...perfect for summer!


"Martha" had a Breton Butter Cake as one of her "desserts of the month" a few years back. It has become a staple recipe in my kitchen. I'm looking forward to trying this version.


Jhumpa Lahiri's 'Unaccustomed Earth'. All of her book are delicious, this is her newest. She is lyrical and beautiful. It's so easy to get lost in her writing...perfect for summer!


I love fiction and I love to read. Since having my second child I don't read nearly as much as I would like. The first book that popped into my head is The Life of Pi. I loved that one so much.


These are beautiful books: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells The Secret Life of Bees by Kidd or anything by Barbara Kingsolver.


Try reading Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente :) Absolutely gorgeous book.


Heidi! I'm a huge fan of your blog and often make your recipes. I wasn't much of a cook until this year when I joined a CSA. Now I need all of the inspiration I can get to make it through all of the wonderful vegetables before they wither in my fridge. So, thank you! Read THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin. My absolute favorite. It will stir your soul.


I just finished The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton. She has a wonderful way of describing place and character – perfect summer reading.


I love Corelli's Mandolin and Birds Without Wings, both by Louis deBernieres. Can't wait to try the cake! I


Fiction: Till we have Faces by C.S. Lewis Mystery: Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie That cake sounds unique (in a good way)!


Oh try Two Rivers by T. Greenwood! A lovely lovely book... now to find buckwheat flour....


Must make this cake. Looks wonderful. Best books I've read lately are The Book Thief (Zusak), Middlesex (Eugenides), and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Larsson).


I'm currently reading: The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak I checked it out from the library and put it on my new eReader! It's a fabulously well weaved story line. Recently Read (and all great): The Age of Turbulence - Alan Greenspan I Want To Buy A Vowel - John Weller The Hungry Ocean - Linda Greenlaw Spanish Fly - Will Ferguson Love your recipes since the day I discovered your frittata :)


On Beauty by Zadie Smith, just about to start Wise Children...i'm happy to see someone recommended that. Also thanks for so many wonderful recipes. Although this is my first comment, I make one of your recipes almost every week and have never made one I didn't love! Thank you.


First, I love your site! As far as reading goes; I am all over the map. The most current ones I have read are: City of Falling Angels- John Berendt The Gold Coast- Nelson DeMille The Perfect Scent-Chandler Burr The Monster of Florence-Douglas Preston The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel -Haruki Murakami The Shadow of the Wind: A Novel -Carlos Ruiz Zafon And I love, love, love anything written by co-authors Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child!


If you haven't read Como Agua Para Chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate, you definitely should. I've only read it in Spanish, but I know there are translations. There are recipes between chapters. For short stories, I love Jhumpa Lahiri's. Her novel, The Namesake, was excellent as well. Keep up the wonderful blog. It's a great resource. I have you bookmarked and my friends and I talk about you and your wonderful recipes at our weekly knitting sessions.


I'm really into Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. She is an amazing story teller and I am immediately transported into her books. I have read: Arranged marriage,Sister of my heart, The mistress of spices (Heidi, I think you would love this one), and The vine of desire. Thanks for your recommendations. Happy reading!


What a lovely idea. I look forward to going back through this list all summer. For food + fiction, I just finished _The School of Essential Ingredients_ by Erica Bauermeister. I love nothing more than a beautifully-written brisk read and it fit those criteria perfectly.


You might want to look at "A Table in the Tarn" by Orlando Murrin. Living, Eating and Cooking in Rural France. Great photos, excellent recipies and the Manoir de Reynaudes is awesome. It's both a storybook and a cookbook.


Check out Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. Both create amazingly rich, haunting worlds that you'll lose yourself in. Also, on the off chance that you haven't, do yourself a favor and read Home Cooking and More Home Cooking by the late great Laurie Colwin. If I were told right now that I would die tomorrow, much of this day would be spent in bed with my husband, drinking tea and reading Laurie Colwin.


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