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Local Recipes

Quatre Quarts (La Haute Mancelière welcome cake)

Due to popular request (although it maybe that guests are just being polite!) here is the recipe to my cake that I leave as part of the welcome pack.
Literally translated as ‘four quarters’, this traditional Breton cake consists of 4 ingredients (eggs, sugar, flour and butter), all portions of the same weight.

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C
1. Weigh the eggs (I usually use 4 medium eggs, which together weigh 220g). The weigh out equal amounts of plain flour, castor sugar and butter.
2. Soften the butter, then mix together with the sugar.
3. Separate the eggs, add and mix in the yolks to the sugar and butter mix, put the whites in a separate bowl.
4. Gradually mix in the flour, plus a pinch of salt to the cake mixture.
5. Whisk the egg whites until solid. It is important that they are well whisked because they are the rising agent in the cakes – there is no baking powder in this recipe!
6. Gradually spoon and fold in the egg whites to the cake mixture. It must be done gently, and by hand (not in a mixer) to ensure that the cake rises.
7. I usually add choc chips to my cake at this point, but it is delicious without, or you can add apple slices as an alternative.
8. Butter a cake tin or mold, around 26cm diameter. Add the mix, then bake in the preheated oven at 170°C for around 45 minutes. To test if the cake is cooked, stick a knife in the centre and if it comes out clean, it is ready.
Bon appetit!

 

Moules à la crème

The local mussels  (moules de bouchot) from the Baie de Mont St Michel are wonderful – so good, in fact, that they have been awarded an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). The mussel producers are hoping that this will prevent other mussels being misleadingly sold as ‘moules de bouchot de la baie de Mont st Michel’.

The term ‘moules de bouchot’ means that the mussels are grown on wooden stakes (’bouchots’) planted in the seabed. This keeps them safe from predators and also means that they are exposed to the marine air when the tide is out, which helps give them their distinctive flavour.

The moules season is from July – late November in this area, any you eat in local restaurants ouside of these months will not be the from the Baie of Mont St Michel.

For 4 people (allow 500g mussels per person).

Ingredients

2kg mussels
6 shallots
6 cloves of garlic
65g/2oz butter
20cl muscadet wine
25cl double cream
juice of one lemon
1 big saucepan/casserole pan with lid

1. Rince the mussels in cold water and remove the beards and barnacles on the shell if necessary. Discard mussels with broken shells and those which are open
2. Chop the shallots and garlic
3. Melt the butter in the pan and add the chopped shallots and garlic and sweat them for 5 minutes.
4. Add the mussels, wine and lemon juice, put the lid on the pan, turn up the heat and cook until the mussels are open, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to overcook the mussels or they will go very rubbery.
5. Drain off most of the juice, leaving about 1cm depth in the bottom of the pan.
6. Add the cream, stir, then serve with crusty bread or chips

Very Naughty Chocolate Cake

Not a local recipe as such, but soooo good, I have to put it on the blog! It is a recipe from my friend Jenny, who has some fabulous luxury holiday homes on the Ile de Ré and makes this cake as a welcome gift for her lucky guests.

200g (7oz) good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter
170g (7oz) chocolate and hazelnut spread (Nutella)
5 medium eggs, separated
150g (5oz) brown sugar
200g packet ground almonds

Icing sugar

23cm (9in) cake tin

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan oven), 325 F, gas 3 and grease and base line the cake tin with greaseproof paper. Melt the chocolate, butter and chocolate & hazelnut spread in a bowl set over a pan of hot water.

2. Use a blender to whisk the egg yolks and sugar together, then stir in the almonds. Transfer almond mixture to the chocolate mix and stir to combine. Whisk egg whites until firm peaks form. Mix one third of the whites into the chocolate to loosen the consistency, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.

3. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 55-ish minutes until lightly set, then allow to stand for 1 hour before serving.

Dust with icing sugar.

It freezes well too – so you don’t have to eat it all at once!

 

Ramaougerie de Pommé

Ramaougerie

Every year, there is a special fête that takes place at the end of November in several of the villages around here. The ‘fête de pommé‘ is the annual making of ‘pommé’, a kind of jam made from apples. The history of this goes back to the second world war. Butter was in short supply, so the local people pooled their apples and got together to make pommé, which was a cheap and easy alternative to having butter on bread. The product is now made and sold as a regional speciality, and it is local volunteers who get together every year to do produce it. The making of the pommé takes place over a weekend in Tremblay – and starts with hundreds of apples being peeled, cored and quartered at the local school. In order to make 100kg of Pommé, 250kg of apples are required, as well as a barrel of sweet cider. On the Friday night, in the back room of the village hall, two fires are lit and the cider is heated in two huge copper pots over a wood fire at midnight. This then simmers for 12 hours (the fire has to be fed by volunteers at this time). After this, the peeled apples are added for the next 19 hours, and the mixture has to be stirred constantly ‘ramaougerie’ to ensure that it doesn’t stick by the volunteers, who work through the night. The mixture is ready by 2am Sunday and then it is put into jars and sold later that day. Of course the volunteers are kept well fed and refreshed by crêpes and wine during the weekend. There are various events in the village hall – a children’s Breton dancing, a meal on the Saturday night and on Sunday a dance. It is probably one of the most important events of the year in Tremblay.

It’s cider time!

Cider is the local drink of Brittany. Many people who live in the countryside have apple trees and every year they pick their apples for the purpose of making their own cider. The apple trees are stripped in October and the apples laid out on black plastic sheets for 3 weeks or so in the open air to rot. The ‘pressoir’ is then booked for November/December – this is the mobile cider press on the back of a tractor, which presses the apples and the juice is then fed into large ‘barriques’  cider barrels, where the cider ferments. The cider is ready to drink in about 6 months time, and very good it is too! For breakfast, lunch, dinner – there is never a wrong time for the Bretons to drink cider.

 

Of course a beret and Breton moustache are essential for cider making;)

The older generation still have the right to produce ‘eau de vie’ – distilled cider, usually about 70% volume and a real throat burner. Traditionally added to a morning coffee (pre Sarkozy and his traffic contrôles, bien sûr!!). This right to distill used to be passed on to the children, but it is now illegal. Each cider producer had the right to produce up to 1000% per year, so around 13 litres. Another tradition that has now disappeared, although I’m sure there will be more healthy livers in Brittany as a result.