Nigella Lawson French cake – Gateau Breton

26 May


Many, many moons ago, when I was an unfortunate-looking teenager, my dad went on a holiday to France. My envy was palpable – growing up in a run-of-the-mill Sydney suburb all one ever heard about France was the chicness of the population, the deliciousness of the food and the classic style of the clothing.

I studied French for my final school exams, which left me able to introduce myself, describe my pets, and ummm, that’s about it.


So when dad told me he was travelling through little French villages I implored him to buy me a Breton top. You know the ones – blue & white striped, long sleeve, with a boat neck. Tres chic [oooh – look! More French!].

I still have the top and it has set me on the path of a life-long love of all things striped & shirty 🙂 I’d be too scared to do a stock take of all the striped shirts I’ve bought for everyone in the Hungry Household over the years.

Segue to this plain-looking but incredible tasting Gateau Breton courtesy of Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

I’m not a big cake eater but I reckon this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. Simple ingredients mean there’s nowhere to hide to so use the best eggs and butter you can get your hands on. So tres French.

I reduced the sugar and added the lemon zest.

You’ll need a spring form pan.



225g plain flour

170g caster sugar

250g unsalted butter, diced

6 large egg yolks

Zest from one large lemon

for the glaze

1 teaspoon egg yolk [from the 6]

1 tablespoon water


Let’s get to it:

Preheat oven to 190C and beat glaze ingredients in teacup then set aside.

Put all ingredients into bowl of Kitchen Aid fitted with a  dough hook and slowly beat until everything is combined and golden.

The dough will be very dense and sticky.

Get it into your well-greased pan by any means necessary – it may be tricky.

Smooth down the top then brush over glaze. Use a fork to prick all over.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 180C and bake for another 18 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

Slice into wedges to serve.

47 Responses to “Nigella Lawson French cake – Gateau Breton”

  1. theveryhungrybaker at 12:28 pm #

    This looks lovely! Do you have it on its own or with an accompaniment?

    • thehungrymum at 8:01 am #

      I served it as is but the Hungry Dad liked it with a bit of cream 🙂

  2. sarahgiebens at 12:33 pm #

    Oh wow this looks so yummy! I love French pastry 🙂 C’est très délicieux 😉

  3. acasadisimi at 2:08 pm #

    yummy!!!I have to make this recipe for my children!

    • thehungrymum at 8:00 am #

      Miss6, who has the biggest sweet tooth, adored this cake [even though it isn’t sweet!].

  4. andmorefood at 2:27 pm #

    always love nigella, and I’ve also got a horrible witness for striped things! there’s just something so imminently wearable about them.

    • thehungrymum at 7:21 am #

      yes! stripes go with everything & can be dressed up or down 🙂

  5. ohlidia at 3:38 pm #

    It does look quite rich and yummy. Simple is always best, no? 🙂

  6. Liz at 3:51 am #

    wow–that cake rocks. And best story ever about the shirt and teenage fashions. Yes, so chic 🙂 And what fun that you still have the shirt today.

    • thehungrymum at 7:37 am #

      Thanks! Is really a simple looking cake but it tastes so good. If autumn ever appears here in Sydney [was 28C today!] I’ll get to ewar the shirt again 🙂

  7. chef mimi at 3:04 pm #

    Fabulous! I do love her dessert recipes. I hope you’ve made it to France. It’s an incredible country!

  8. Lovely! I’m a big fan of Nigella’s and recently made her Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake. It was great, so I’m pretty sure this was too!! 🙂

    • thehungrymum at 9:27 am #

      *swoons* That cheesecake sounds AMAZING – has my name all over it.

  9. This is such a rich and deeply-flavored cake. I can’t imagine how delicious the crumb.

  10. Absolutely divine! A gataeu sounds far more appealing than a tea cake and the beautiful crust like finish makes me hunger for dessert now!

    • thehungrymum at 11:17 am #

      oui – gateau sounds uber-chic 😉 It is great for a dessert hit as it isn’t overly sweet.

  11. Lori at 5:47 am #

    This looks wonderful! Anything lemon and I’m in! 🙂

    • thehungrymum at 7:28 am #

      Snap 🙂 Love the zesty freshness of anything citrussy in cakes.

      • Lori at 6:44 pm #

        Agreed! 🙂

  12. I really like the size of the cake – I mean the depth. I find certain cakes look and taste so moist when they are not so thick. I also really think any Nigella recipe is good.

    • thehungrymum at 11:31 am #

      I know what you mean- I prefer a thinner cake rather than a big skyscraper of a cake.

  13. This is so tres French.. and now I’m dying to own one of those tops as well:D

    • thehungrymum at 11:28 am #

      Merci 🙂 Anything stripey & boatnecky count as a Breton top 😉

  14. Choc Chip Uru at 8:26 am #

    This cake looks so tasty, rich but simple at the same time 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

    • thehungrymum at 11:25 am #

      You’ve hit the nail on the head Choc Chip Uru! A slender slice is all you need 🙂

  15. Healing Tomato at 11:29 pm #

    I actually remember seeing Nigellla do this recipe on her British TV show. It is great to see how you have adopted the recipe and made it so perfect. Good job.

    • thehungrymum at 11:26 am #

      Oh, I loved watching Nigella when she was on in Australia but has been yonks since any of her shows have been on 😦 Thanks – I like to put my stamp on my bakes!

  16. Looks delicious! In less than two weeks, I’m off to Paris for 11 weeks- I’ll be sure to bring you back a striped shirt (from memory, they sell lots of T-shirts emblazoned with pictures of the Eiffel Tower, but not too many berets and striped shirts)!

    • thehungrymum at 11:28 am #

      Oooooh, I am SO envious! Gar! Enjoy your trip – hope you plan to blog every morsel you eat [so us plebs at home can be really jealous!].

  17. This looks amazing! I love any recipe by Nigella- and this cake sounds right up my street! 🙂

    • thehungrymum at 10:27 am #

      Nigella sure does know her stuff! Hope you try this cake – is a real winner.

  18. hotlyspiced at 12:10 pm #

    I too, have always wanted to go to Paris. I’m so pleased your father brought you back the top you wanted and how amazing you still have it! This is a beautiful and moist looking cake xx

    • thehungrymum at 7:01 am #

      Damn Australia for being sooo far away from France! Thanks – this cake is really stunning & is a change from most cakes I make.

  19. Patty Nguyen at 6:04 am #

    I like that you reduced the sugar in your version of the recipe. I often find myself doing the same! Also, have you tried making Nigella’s fairy cakes? They are so good!

    • thehungrymum at 11:43 am #

      I’m a fiend for reducing sugar – is the first thing I do when baking 🙂 Haven’t tried Nigella’s fairy cakes but I do have the recipe in Domestic Goddess.

      • Frugal Hausfrau at 3:59 am #

        Wow, hard to believe that is so easy! I like that you reduced the sugar, too! Can’t wait to try it.

      • thehungrymum at 6:03 am #

        Easy is my motto when it comes to baking #lazy And always reduce the sugar – am shocked by how much sugar some recipes have.

  20. Rhonda Sittig at 1:29 pm #

    Fun to find your blog!– I’m stripy shirt kind of gal too– an this cake looks simple and perfectly delicious. thanks!

  21. I love this kind of cake! Another one for my baking list. Sometimes the simplest ones are the most satisfying. And I would have it with some fresh whipped cream, too!

    • thehungrymum at 8:24 am #

      I agree – often I find a perefct cake is ruined by overly sickly frosting. Let’s free the cakes from icing and serve au naturel.


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