Cranberry Gateau Breton

New England meets France in this delightful take on a classic French butter cake filled with festive spiced cranberry jelly.

Sans high fructose corn syrup, sans ridges from the can, this recipe for homemade cranberry jelly is a tart holiday table classic updated with orange and spice. Gateau Breton is more like a giant shortbread cookie than a cake, but the combination of spiced cranberry with the buttery cake is heavenly. It looks and tastes beautiful – it will be the star of your holiday table!

Cranberry Gateau Breton

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print
Although cranberries have a lot of natural pectin, this recipe adds extra for a firm set to stand up against the dense butter cake. Make the cranberry jelly the day before because it needs at least 12 hours in the fridge to fully set. The pectin used to set the jelly is added later in the cooking process so you can adjust the taste of the jelly and spices without being thrown off by pectin’s bitter flavor (it dissipates when it sets). Use a cultured European butter for this recipe, it’s worth the splurge! Ensure that the butter is truly room temperature when making the batter so you can avoid adding too much air to the batter when you mix it. Each layer of the cake is frozen to avoid mushing the jelly into the batter. Don’t skip the egg wash glaze or the traditional scoring on the top, as they give this cake its “wow” factor!


Cranberry Jelly

  • 2 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 4 green cardamom pods, freshly ground
  • 1 pinch ground cloves and ground ginger
  • 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 cup 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 the cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, ginger, 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 for another 1-2 minutes.

Remove the strips of orange zest. Working in batches, press the cranberries through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl with a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon, working all of the liquid through the sieve until the solids remaining are tacky and matte. Discard the solids.

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

Cake Directions

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

In a stand mixer, cream together the 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 the vanilla and then add the flour in large batches until just incorporated. The mixture will be a fairly stiff dough.

Divide in two and cover on half with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Working with half of the dough, spread or press it into the bottom of the buttered springform pan using an offset spatula or your fingers. 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 for another 10 minutes.

Remove from freezer. Spread the remaining half of the dough into a circle on a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper using an offest spatula or your fingers. Flip on top of the jelly and continue spreading the dough to fully cover the edges of the base layer of dough and pressing it onto the edge.

Mix one egg yolk with one tablespoon of water and generously glaze the top of the cake with a pastry brush. Allow the glaze to dry for 5 minutes and then glaze again. 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 firm, evenly golden, and fragrant, about 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.

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