To say I don’t bake much is an understatement. Baking is my arch enemy, my Lex Luthor. I think maybe it’s because it is too precise. Cooking allows me to tweak the recipe as I go, but baking is unforgiving if you don’t follow each step. Why on earth then, would I bake Gâteau Breton aux Pommes? Well, two reasons, apples abound this time of year and this cake called for a drizzle of salted caramel sauce and I just happen to have a jar of it in the pantry. No, you don’t understand, I have the real deal - authentic French caramel sauce from a trip to Breton, France last year. Can you believe I forgot I had it? Two good reasons to face my baking fears.
First, good things come to those who wait. Caramelizing the apples took a lot longer than I anticipated. But have patience, they do start browning, just keep stirring them now and again (and use a skillet with a lot of space). While the apples browned, I whipped up the cake batter. The amount of butter in this recipe was staggering but I knew I had to follow the recipe. Apples now browned, placing those hot little buggers into the cake pan left my fingertips tender (read: let them cool a bit).
The batter was very sticky which made it tricky to spread over the apples. I found my fingers the best tool because it stuck to everything else I tried (worse then it stuck to my fingers). Sticky batter in place, it was off to the oven.
The fragrance during baking was enough to beckon the neighbors (if you are curious, no one showed up at my door). The recipe called for baking the cake 40-50 minutes but it was looking decidedly done in about 30 minutes so I started the toothpick test. I pulled it at about 34 minutes in total. Soon after it came out of the oven we departed for dinner plans out (thankfully) because I really wanted to snitch a piece. Needless to say, we did not have dessert at the restaurant in anticipation of the cake. It was worth the wait - rich, yet not cloyingly sweet and the lemon zest lent a surprising citrusy note (don’t leave out the fresh lemon zest). I did use the salted carmel sauce from France but I’m not convinced it was needed. The cake and a small scoop of ice cream was enough. And yes, I do plan to share this cake with my neighbors. Find the recipe at BonAppetit.com: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/gateau-breton-aux-pommes.