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Breton Butter Cake

In Brittany, the westernmost region in France, butter is a way of life. Since the Middle Ages, people there have used a distinctive, sea-salty butter in all sorts of cooking, including this supremely simple cake. Made with little more than butter, flour, sugar, and eggs, it has a dense, crisp texture, similar to shortbread. We topped our version with a fresh strawberry compote spiked with Grand Marnier. Accompanied by a cup of coffee, it's a pleasant finish to dinner; if you have any left over, you can nibble on a slice for breakfast the next morning.

  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake
Breton Butter Cake

Photography: Charles Schiller

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2002


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large whole egg, lightly beaten
  • Strawberry Compote


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and salt; beat just until combined. Do not overmix.

  2. Transfer batter to 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom; with small offset spatula, spread batter and smooth top. (If necessary, chill batter 10 minutes before smoothing.) Place pan in refrigerator 15 minutes.

  3. Remove from refrigerator. Brush top with beaten egg, and mark a criss-cross pattern with a fork. Brush again with egg. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and edges pull away from sides of pan, about 50 minutes.

  4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Remove cake from pan, and slice while still warm. Serve with strawberry compote.

Reviews (4)

  • brklyncook 1 Dec, 2013

    Similar to shortbread the second day. Buttery, tasty and great with coffee.

  • tlizzy 6 Oct, 2013

    Great afternoon tea addition!

  • Bertine 29 Sep, 2013

    Sounds like a good basic cake. However, the baking time seems a little long. I like my cakes really moist.

  • BTrixie 18 May, 2011

    Yummy! It's a bit sweet for breakfast.. but great in the afternoon with tea. Good with jam if strawberries are out of season or you're feeling lazy.

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