For sheer simple beauty, there’s no beating (no pun intended) a slice of gâteau battu. The brioche family of breads is like that. They’re golden in color and can be baked in all sorts of elegantly shaped molds. Gâteau battu differs from brioche mainly in its flavor — which is significantly sweeter — and its texture which is extremely tender and moist. Especially when topped with custard, jam or some other sweet spread, it truly lives up to it’s designation as a cake (versus a bread). Start by making the sponge. Combine the yeast, egg and flour…
Let the mixture ferment for an hour until it’s nice and puffy (don’t worry about the grains of yeast on the surface, they’ll dissolve in the mixing step).
Combine the sponge with the rest of the ingredients (save for the butter) in a mixer with a dough hook attached. Knead for 5-7 minutes until the mixture comes together in a sticky dough that gathers around the hook yet still sticks to the bottom of the bowl.
Next add the soft butter about 2 tablespoons at a time until you’ve got a light, sticky dough.
Scrape it into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for two hours…
…or until it looks like this:
Transfer the dough to a gâteau battu mold, tall brioche mold or even a standard 10″ loaf pan, where it will still work splendidly.
Let it rise an hour, until it’s about an inch below the lip of the form. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and set a rack on the lower middle of the oven.
Bake the gâteau for 50 minutes or so until it’s well browned on top. You can tent it with aluminum foil after about 40 minutes if it seems to be getting too brown.
It should rise about an inch and a half over the lip of the form. Cool it for at least two hours before slicing. It will actually keep very, very well left in the form unsliced for two or even three days. All that sugar and fat, donchaknow.
When you’re ready to serve, turn the beast on its side and cut it into half-inch slices.
Gâteau battu is traditionally served with simple custard slathered all over it. Jam is another excellent way to go.
These dainty little sandwiches have something else inside them.
Whichever way you go with this, it’s almost impossible to go wrong. Make any stale leftovers into French toast!