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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Julia's birthday cake: biscuit au beurre (butter spongecake)

Happy Birthday, Julia! In honor of her birthday, I decided to make a cake I'd never tried before, her "biscuit au beurre" spongecake. What a pretty cake, brushed with apricot jam and a rim of toasted, ground almonds. But, it's a little bland to my tastebuds, although Julia suggests it for tea served with berries or other fruits. It was wonderful with mango sorbet, but next time I make it I think I'll split it and fill the middle with creme patissiere for a little more interest. Still, it's a pretty foolproof cake - I usually make a genoise, which can be tricky.
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I
to make:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter and flour an 8x2 inch cake pan.
4 T. unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
2 t. vanilla
kosher salt, pinch of
2 T. sugar ( for the whites)
1 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
about a cup of apricot jam, warmed with a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice (the glaze)
about 3/4 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped in a food processor ( for the rim)
Melt the butter until it's golden brown. Take off heat, set aside.
Beat the egg whites and salt together in mixer bowl until soft peaks are formed.
Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed. Scrape onto a plate while you proceed with the rest of the recipe.
In the same mixer bowl ( no washing!) mix the egg yolks. Gradually add the 2/3rds cup of sugar and the vanilla, and beat with whisk attachment until batter is pale yellow and thick.
Scoop 1/4 of the egg whites and 1/4 of the flour onto the egg yolk mixture and fold gently in. Add half the melted butter. When incorporated, add the next 1/4th, fold, and so on, and the rest of the butter, until all are blended in.
Scrape into prepared cake pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.
The top should be golden and firm to a tender touch in the middle. Remove to cooling rack for five minutes, then remove the cake to another rack to cool.
While still warm, brush the top and sides of the cake with the warmed apricot jam.
Holding the cake on a "table " of your five fingers, take a scoop of the almond meal and press all along the sides of the cake until covered.
If you want to add a filling, obviously you would split it and fill the middle before brushing with the jam and pressing in the almond meal. The recipe for the creme patissiere is here.
So enjoy - and raise a glass of bubbly to our favorite effervescent cook in the world!


Anonymous said...

Apricots , almonds and butter. This has to be delicious.
Have to make a note in my Julia cookbook. Thanks for sharing.

Sonia said...

The cake looks lovely....I love the idea of the mango sorbet with it....
Happy Birthday, Julia!

FrugalMom said...

It looks fantastic Katrina, perfect for a hot August afternoon.

SweetsSuccessBaking said...

Sounds delicious, and appropriate for her birthday.

katrina said...

Kirsten, it's lovely, but the flavor could be bumped up a little. I took a slice to my friend Mr. B., who suggested lemon curd filling! Yum! I'd like that even more than creme patis! Glad you liked ♥

katrina said...

Thanks, Sonia! I did love the tang of the mango, though I imagine any really good ice cream or sorbet would work.

katrina said...

So glad you enjoyed this, j r!

katrina said...

Dear Sweets - I just saw a book on your blog I didn't even KNOW about! Baking with Julia - I'll most definitely look for that. Happy to see you raising a glass to Julia, too!

Martha said...

I made a similar cake -- it is a good tea cake but a little "plain" for most tastes. However, I will have to try this.

I made your mini peach honey and thyme pies. For an herbal class -- and it is my latest post on my blog. I did give you credit and did link to your post.

I do hope you don't mind.

BTW, they are amazing! Thanks for a great recipe!

katrina said...

Martha - what an honor! Thank you, and I just love your little peach pies with thyme ....I'm very much like you in getting (overly) excited when herbs are involved. As I mentioned, this biscuit au beurre is pretty plain - if you come up with an herby idea for a filling, do let me know. So far we've thought up lemon curd and creme patissiere, or ice cream. said...

Lovely photos and I LOVE cake!
How about a raspberry or blueberry filling???

Happy birthday Julia!

Maria said...

Lovely cake!

katrina said...

I was thinking about this last night, bakedinmaine. Fruit fillings would be grand with this, but rereading Julia's notes, I think the spongecake is an excellent taste/texture to a fresh fruit compote ( or fresh berries) without a really rich creme patissiere. So much to learn!

katrina said...

Thanks, Maria - delighted you enjoyed! Just two minutes ago I was checking out your Fluffernutter cookies. Peanut butter & fluff: perfect!

Vincent page said...

I have made this cake at least 50 times (and own both volumes of Mastering the Art of French Cooking). You have written the récipé incorrectly - Julia calls for 3/4 cups of flour, not 1 and 1/4. I honestly don't know how your cakes have turned out correctly with this grave error.
Please correct me if I'm wrong.

katrina said...

Well, Vincent, thank you for your comment - I will make it again as soon as I have all the ingredients - haven't made it in ages! I'll get back to you.

Unknown said...

I had Julia's MTAFC 1 out just minutes ago. The recipe says 1 1/4 flour. I bought the book in 1972 or 1973 so it is the original.

katrina said...

Thanks, Unknown! We probably have the same issue of the cookbook - have yet to make again, but will measure when I do.

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