On top of being one of the most iconic baked goods from Picardy, this Beaten Cake is rich, moist and oh so satisfying. Its particularity is made out from 11 beaten egg yolks, which gives it a decadent pudding-like texture with a delicate airy consistency. Its crust is smooth and golden, with a nice buttery aroma. An old-time classic at family gatherings, this brioche-like cake is traditionally enjoyed with some creamy rhubarb compote – another culinary treasure hailing from Picardy.
Known for its cold but fertile grounds, Picardy is, along with Flanders, the only French land where rhubarb is abundantly cultivated. Compared to its English and Polish cousins, Picardy rhubarb is renowned for its intensely sweet flesh and hence, doesn’t need many frills to shine in a recipe. It is usually enjoyed in a very simple manner, such as in this delectable rhubarb compote. Traditionally enjoyed atop of a slice of beaten cake, this compote is just as delightful with crepes, or even a fleshy fish (such as tuna) or a gamey meat (such as rabbit, quail or duck).
A few notes:
- The Beaten Cake is also famous for being in the shape of a Chef’s hat. It is to be baked in a specific grooved and deep mold, but you can use a Kouglof or brioche mold, also.
- As the name reveals, the cake batter is beaten – vigorously and extensively. Even though I usually much prefer baking by hand (to get a better feel of batter’s consistency), you are much better off using a stand mixer for this recipe – or prepare yourself for some serious sore arms the following day.
Fun Fact: To protect and promote this Picardy treat, several bakers from Picardy gathered in 1993, in Abbeville, to form the “Gâteau Battu Brotherhood”. Since then, the association has been organizing annual festivals and competitions to reward the authentic beaten cake’s producers.
I hope you enjoy this Beaten Cake and Rhubarb Compote from Picardy Region as much as I did. Bon appétit !
Beaten Cake and Rhubarb Compote from Picardy RegionPrint This
- For 2 Beaten Cakes:
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 tbsp (50g) active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
- 11 egg yolks
- 2 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon butter (room temperature, for the molds)
- For the rhubarb compote:
- Rhubarb compote:
- 1.2 kg (2.6 pounds) of rhubarb stalks
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 vanilla beans (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 4 tablespoon salted butter, cold and cubed.
For the Beaten Cakes:
Sprinkle the yeast in ½ cup of luke-warm water, set aside. It should start to bubble and foam.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, the egg yolks and the melted butter. Add in the yeast mixture, and beat, at medium speed, for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites (until fluffy, with a medium peak). Add the egg whites to the mixture, and beat again, at medium speed, for 15 minutes.
Pour the batter into two deep cake molds (ideally brioche, bundt cake or Kouglof molds) , previously greased with butter. The batter should fill 1/3 of the molds. Cover with a damp kitchen cloth, a dry and slightly warm room, and let the batter rest for 1h30 to 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 320F (in a convection oven) and 340F in a regular oven. Bake the two cakes together for 30 minutes; they should reach ½ the heights of the molds and be golden. Wait at least 2 hour for the cakes to be at room temperature before removing them from the molds.
Keeps up to 1 week, at room temperature, well wrapped (in a plastic film or kitchen cloth).
For the Compote:
Clean the rhubarb stalks and remove any visible thick strings. Coarsely chop the stalks into ½ inch pieces.
Place the rhubarb in a big pot (no heat). Add the sugar and the inside of the vanilla beans. Mix and set aside for 30 minutes, at least.
After 30 minutes, bring the pot to medium heat and let simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you get a compote-like texture.
Remove from the heat, add in the butter and stir until it is completely dissolved.
Keeps up to 2 days, refrigerated.