Cranberry Gateau Breton

Yes, this recipe uses cranberry jelly. No, not the stuff from a can. Homemade cranberry jelly – sans high fructose corn syrup, sans ridges from the can – is seasonally flavored with orange and spices before being baked into the middle of this delightful French cake that is more like a giant shortbread cookie. It looks and tastes beautiful, as the combination of spiced cranberry with the buttery cake is heavenly.

Cranberry Gateau Breton

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Medium
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The challenge with this gateau is not adding air into the batter and not mushing the jelly into the batter, hence freezing each layer. Make the cranberry jelly the day before because it needs at least 12 hours in the fridge to fully set before you can use it. Pectin to set the jelly is added later in the cooking process so you can adjust the taste without being thrown off by pectin’s bitter flavor (that disappates when it sets). Use a cultured European butter for this recipe, it’s worth the splurge!


Cranberry Jelly

  • 2 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 2 green cardamom pods, freshly ground
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • Zest of 1 large orange, in large strips
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons dry rapid set (a.k.a. HM) pectin

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter*, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water to glaze the top


Cranberry Jelly Directions

Prepare an 8″ cake pan with a round of parchment paper covering the bottom.

Over medium-high heat, stir together cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, sugar, orange juice, and strips of orange zest. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until the cranberries have burst and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Test for flavor – carefully!, it’s very hot – and adjust if needed. Stir in pectin and cook another 1-2 minutes.

Remove the strips of orange zest. Pour the jelly into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and press through with the back of a wooden spoon, working all of the gel/liquid through the sieve.

Pour jelly into prepared cake pan with parchment. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Cake Directions

Butter a 9″ springform cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a stand mixer, cream together room temperature butter and sugar until just incorporated. With the mixer on low, add egg yolks one at a time, waiting until each is fully mixed in before adding the next. Mix in vanilla and then add flour in large batches until just incorporated. The mixture will be a fairly stiff dough.

Divide in two. Spread or press half of the dough into the greased springform pan. Freeze for 10 minutes to firm it up.

Out of the freezer, add the cranberry jelly to the middle of the cake by carefully lifting the cranberry jelly out of its pan by the parchment paper and turning it over onto the center of the frozen dough. Peel off the parchment paper and freeze again for another 10 minutes.

Remove from freezer and very carefully spread the remaining half of the dough on top of the jelly, making sure to spread the dough fully to the edges of the springform pan and pressing it onto the edge of exposed dough underneath the jelly.

Mix one egg yolk with one tablespoon of water and generously glaze the top of the cake with a pastry brush. Take a fork and gently, so as not to break through the dough, score the dough in a diagonal pattern by drawing 3 parallel lines about an inch apart and then turning the pan 45º and crossing the lines with another 3 parallel lines about an inch apart. Like so:

Gateau Design

Bake until evenly golden and fragrant, 45 minutes. After 10 minutes of cooling, run the tip of a paring knife around the edges of the cake and unmold the sides of the springform pan. Allow to cool fully before removing from the pan’s base. Serve in wedges.

* On butter – I am lactose intolerant but can eat butter, as is fairly common, so I still bake with it. I usually recommend that those who can’t handle butter use their favorite favorite non-dairy option, but the butter flavor is very integral to this recipe. I have not tried to make it with a non-dairy substitute, so cannot confirm how it works. Of course, give it a go if you have had good results baking with a non-dairy butter, and let me know how it goes!

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