Gâteau de Voyage à l’ Huile d’ Olive et au Citron （Lemon and Olive Oil Loaf Cake）
Gâteau de Voyage à l’ Huile d’ Olive et au Citron… what a mouthful of a name for such a simple cake. Loosely translated as an “Olive Oil and Lemon Travel Cake”, the term “Gâteau de Voyage” was popularised through the great French patissier Gaston Lenôtre back in the 1970s and has since become a “staple” in many French patisseries. most notably from Pierre Hermé, a prodigy of Lenôtre who created many flavours of “Gâteau de Voyage” based on his “signature” and “fetish” series. I am forever looking for a good “Gâteau de Voyage” recipe and thus when I chanced upon this one which uses olive oil in place of the standard butter, I knew I’d have to try it out!
A “Gâteau de Voyage” is actually a rustic looking cake baked in a straightforward manner which is not unlike another favorite, quatre-quart, the french variation of the standard pound cake. All the ingredients are simply added in successions unilke the “egg separation method” , hence producing a cake structure that is firmer and more robust, making it less fragile and thus fit to be brought along for a road trip, in the old days that is when cake caddies are not in fashion!
Most of the lemons we get here in Singapore are waxed so the important thing is to remove the wax from the skin before using the lemons. This can be simply done by first placing the lemons in a deep bowl and pouring very hot water over them making sure that they are completely submerged for a good 10-15 mins with a plate over the bowl as a lid. The lemons are then scrubbed and rinsed under running water, after which they are ready to go!
I’d used a mixture of two different types of lemons for this cake. The standard lemon which we get a lot over here imported from Turkey, South Africa and even Israel. Then there are Meyer lemons that went in there. A hybrid between lemons and mandarin oranges, Meyer lemons carry the characteristic citrusy scent of mandarin oranges amidst the lemony zing. The juice is also slightly less astringent than the prototypical citron, but they are no where near being “sweet” as this most recent batch that we saw here professed to be!
A groupshot of the ingredients used starting from top to bottom, left to right: eggs, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, lemon zest, beurre noisette, plain flour, baking powder and sugar.
Substituting olive oil for butter works really well, yielding a cake which is reasonably more moist than what the standard “Gâteau de Voyage” would have been. And the marriage of lemons with olive oil works really well but this is hardly surprising as lemon-infused olive oils are a fairly common commodity in french gourmet food stores. The detail which I really liked about this recipe is whatever small fraction of butter left intact in the ingredient list is not simply “left alone” but instead, being transformed into “Beurre noisette” by simply melting and heating the butter. The nutty aroma imparted by Beurre noisette adds on a lovely dimension to the cake.
I like the use of honey in this recipe as well for the lovely floral hues creating a more “all-rounded” concoction of flavours as well as to keep the cake moist at ends through the natural invert sugars in the honey.
Recipe for Gâteau de Voyage à l’Huile d’ Olive et au Citron adapted from here
(makes one foot-long loaf cake or two 15-cm long loaf cakes)
2 large lemons (I’d used 1 lemon and 2 Meyer lemons)
150g castor sugar
4 medium eggs & 1 egg yolk
1 tsp baking powder
40 g unsalted butter
150g olive oil
50g of honey (I’d used Acacia honey）
2 tbsp of apricot glaze soften slightly with 2 tsp hot water (optional)
Mise en Place
Place whole lemons in a deep bowl and pour boiling water carefully over them until completely submerged. Cover and leave aside for 10-15 min.
Meanwhil, melt butter in a saucepan over a medium-low flame and watch the butter darken. Turn off the heat when it begins to froth and a nutty aroma becomes apparent. Do not allow the butter to brown too much as it would leave a bitter aftertaste from the burnt milk solids. Take off flame and leave to cool.
While waiting for the lemons and noisette butter, grease the loaf tins and line with baking parchment.
Scrub and rinse the lemons and pat dry with kitchen towel. Zest the lemons with a micrograter and juice them. It should come up nicely to 10g of lemon zest with 100g of juice.
Sift flour and baking powder 2-3 times until evenly mixed. Otherwise, self-raising flour may also be used.
In a large bowl, mix the sugar with the eggs and yolk. Whisk until pale and creamy. The volume should increase multiple folds.
Add the flour and baking powder mixture and mix until it becomes a smooth paste.
Add the noisette butter, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and mix again until well incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the lined loaf tins and bake for about 40 minutes until skewer inserted through the tallest part of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool slightly in the tin for 5-10 min.
Remove cake from the tin, carefully peel off the baking parchment on the sides and if using, quickly brush on a layer of apricot glaze all over. This helps the cake to stay moist for an even longer period of time.
So yes, this “Gâteau de Voyage à l’ Huile d’ Olive et au Citron ” is much much better than than my previous one from Raymond Blanc. It is moist and fragrant with a rather tight crumb structure that is soft but not fluffy or crumbly thus allowing it to hold its shape when cut. Neither is it dense with too much heft, so I would think that it is rather well-balanced on the whole. The juice and zest of lemons definitely adds to the zing making the cake refreshing and much lighter than what it actually would been without. And duncha just love the “volcano-ing” effect which reminds much of a classic french cake? I most certainly do!