Traveling Through Brittany France and a Breton Gateau Recipe

by Pamela

butter cake, brittany france, oysters, travel, france, dessert, relationship advice

Brittany France located in the north-west of the country has great coastal areas to satisfy the seafood lover in you as well as a large inland area sure to pacify the oenophile in you as well. Combine these two things along with traveling companions that are not only friends but frequent visitors to the area and you’ve got yourself a getaway with memories that include raucous bar nights (with some kind of wall art from the bar to remember that by) to walks through historic city streets that are so magnificent in their storybook like looks that you’ll forget all about that raging hangover your sporting. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the butter from this area is legendary and finds its way into some of the most fantastic sweet treats you’ll ever sink your teeth into.

Yes, this post is also part of my most recent Europe trip. The funny thing about these posts is that I’m writing them in the complete opposite chronological order of which they happened. I’m not sure why this is how they’ve ended up on here, but I’m not going to question my strange brain at this point. I’ve been doing so many weird things lately that this is totally normal compared to the other ish I’ve done recently.

Before heading to Paris to eat and bike, we spent two and a half days in Brittany France eating, drinking and walking. While Brittany is composed of five departments (areas/regions) we spent our time in Ille-et-Vilaine which is in the north-east and along the coast. We stayed in St. Malo and spent the first part of the Brittany trip there.

Brittany France - St. Malo Oysters

Plates of oysters and bottles of Muscadet are de rigueur – which is totally up my alley. I lost track of how many of each we consumed. But hey, oysters are all protein and lo-cal right? Perfect! These oysters had a rich buttery flavor and a smooth yet hearty texture to them. I’ve never tasted anything like them. I learned that the buttery flavor is something particular to the oysters from the Brittany France region. Could it be that the oysters are eating that rich delicious butter too?

Brittany France Oysters in St. Malo

See how pretty the water is? No, I did not Photoshop the color in this picture. But see all the white stuff around the rocks and into the water? Guess what that is. It’s oyster shells. You can go to an area where they pull the oysters fresh from the water and either sit at a restaurant or buy them straight from vendors that get the same oysters but sell them directly ocean side. Those shells are from people eating from the vendors and tossing the empty shells into the water. During high tide you see the shells under the water and all these little yellow things bobbing in the azure water. Those little yellow things are the lemons that have been squeezed over the oysters.

On to Mont St. Michel…

UNESCO World Heritage Site Mont St. Michel

Sometimes you need to take a break from the gluttony and visit a place like Mont St. Michel. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mont St. Michel is an island (when the tide comes in…trust me, it’s an island) and has been the seat of the monestary (for which it was named since the 8th century AD – yes, it’s really old).  The island, small and compact as it is, consists of the Abbey (at the very top…under God), the halls, the stores and houses which people live in. Are there hotels on the island? Yes. Are there loads of tourists? YES. But there are tours of the Abbey at night, and if you stay on the island, that’s one of the perks you’ll get to see. I got to roam the Abbey during the day and it was fantastic. I can only imagine what it looks like at night by the scattered candlelight and sporadic incandescent lights.

The Fishing Village of France - Cancale

The quaint little fishing village of Cancale is the absolute picture of Brittany France. You know how you swear they take pictures of one ‘perfect looking’ college campus and use those photos to sell a hundred colleges (they actually did do that with pictures of my college…it was the campus that sold 100 college campuses)? That’s what Cancale is to Brittany.

Cancale - A Tiny Fishing Village in Brittany France

This little village has been inhabited since the late 1700’s and is the preeminent source of oysters in the region. In fact, the photo I showed you earlier as St. Malo, was actually verging on the border of Cancale.

You know those really cute blue and white/red and white horizontal striped shirts that were so popular this summer? Those are quintessential Breton (Brittany France) wear. I swear!!! I own several myself and had to buy an authentic one when I was in Cancale. I thought about buying 4 more for my niece and nephews (that crew is all from one parental unit by the way) but decided not to since I couldn’t explain what they were. (I bought Peter Rabbit books in England for them instead).

Part of the Cuteness of the Brittany Coast in Cancale France

But a culinary coolness about Cancale, outside of the fantastic oysters?  The sweets! While I had definitely taken advantage of the the superior dairy products in all of the locations of this trip, here in Cancale is where everything seemed to come together. (For the record, I passed out in front of the butter case when I saw at least 20 different butters, all of amazingly superior milk/cream sources, in one place and for less than what I have to pay for seriously CRAP butter here.) But I digress.

While Brittany France is well known for its kouign amann or butter cake (No, kouign amann was NOT originated in Brooklyn,NY by the same guy that brought us the cronut!!!!), it’s the Breton Gateau that stole my heart. This, not so tall, cake is a cross between a buttery shortbread cookie and an actual cake. There aren’t many ingredients and it eats more like a thick cookie than a moist and delicate cake, but it’s rich and simple flavors had me at gateau.

I’m not going to tell you where I got this recipe from, because I swore that I wouldn’t. I am a broad of my word(s) – however slurred they may be.

Best Dessert from Brittany France - Breton Gateau

This is a great dessert recipe when you have no idea what to make or you’re in a crunch to whip something up. You probably have everything you need right in your cupboards and fridge right now.

What are you waiting for? Pull this recipe up on your pad in get in your kitchen and make one of these right now. You’re welcome!

Traveling Through Brittany France and a Breton Gateau Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The coastal area of Brittany France is known for its deep history and culinary richness. Favorites of Brittany include cider, oysters and buttery cakes.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Serves: 8
  • 1 Cup Butter (1 Stick Unsalted Butter + 1 Stick Salted Butter)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Rum (can also use vanilla extract instead)
  • 2¾ Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • 6 Egg Yolks (whisked together)
  • 1 Teaspoon Milk (can also use cream if you don't have any milk)
  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Add room temperature butter, sugar and rum to mixing bowl and beat until color is light yellow and sugar is well mixed.
  3. Gradually add flour and baking powder to butter mixture and blend until incorporated (this won't take very long at all - so don't over mix).
  4. Remove 1 teaspoon of the egg mixture and mix it with the milk in a small container and set aside.
  5. Carefully add salt and whisked egg yolks to the mixing bowl and mix until a soft sticky dough is formed. (It will be a lot more like sticky cookie dough than cake batter.)
  6. Add batter to a buttered 8" or 9" cake pan (I used a spring form pan lined with buttered parchment paper.)
  7. Carefully smooth batter out so that it is evenly spread. Line the top with a piece of plastic wrap to get a smooth finish on top as you spread it out.
  8. Mix the bit of egg yolk and milk together and brush over top of the cake.
  9. Drag a fork over the top of the cake to form an open grid pattern.
  10. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes or until top is a nice golden brown color.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  12. Serve warm or cold with fresh berries and maybe a bit of whipped cream.
Use the best butter and eggs you can get. This will really make a difference in the taste and appearance of your cake. You can use all salted or unsalted butter. If you use all salted butter, omit the ¼ teaspoon of salt.


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sippitysup September 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm

I miss Europe. I should go back. GREG

Pamela September 24, 2013 at 10:16 am

You should…and you should come with me. I’ll be heading back there sooner as opposed to later. 😉

Pamela September 24, 2013 at 10:17 am

Maureen, I had never been to this part of France and I am so in love with it! It’s not the hustle and bustle of Paris and it’s a bit more “approachable” than the south of France (which is also pretty amazing).

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef September 23, 2013 at 7:25 am

I love that part of France or any part of France to be honest. I know I could live there and be happy. 🙂 Loved the post and the cake.

Norina Sopotiuck September 22, 2013 at 5:37 am

I am soo inspired by the pictures and recipe. I loved the cobblestone lane and could hear the ocean I the background. I will have to settle and use my imagination and bake the gateau.. Have some wine……cheese…. You get the picture! Thanks

Norina Sopotiuck September 22, 2013 at 5:33 am

I can soo picture myself walking down the cobble stone lane. Sipping the wine and of course eating the amazing looking cake. Sigh….will use the imagination and bake the cake and of course have a little vino with it. Thanks for the pics,memories and recipe.

Pamela September 22, 2013 at 8:59 am

Hi Norina, I am so ready to pack my bags and head back there myself. 😉 Enjoy the cake.

Dina September 21, 2013 at 8:31 pm

it looks delicious!

Bernadine Butkowski September 21, 2013 at 8:06 am

Those pictures make be get packing and go on a trip. Will try the cake soon.
The last of the peaches should go well with it.

Pamela September 21, 2013 at 9:39 am

Mom, you and dad would LOVE this area! Since it’s so close to the UK, there’s a lot of English speakers as well, so you won’t have much trouble with the language either. You should make some of your peach pie filling to top off this cake. I might have to jump on a plane and come home for some of that. You know Craig would be all over it.

Jenny Hartin September 20, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Beautiful photos and great looking gateau.

Pamela September 20, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Thanks Jenny! You really need to make this. It’s so easy and tastes like it took so much more work than it does. 🙂

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