Monday, May 14, 2012

I Did Eat Some Gâteaux à la Broche

I'll never outgrow this cakeblog. I will return to it every so often! However, I will find other things to do for years on end.
FIFTY-THREE WEEKS AGO, I ate a gâteau à la broche. Fifty-two weeks ago, I ate a second one, from a different place. And yet I am only getting around to discussing them now! To quote a fellow Mudd alumnus, "I am grossly incompetent."
It was a pretty fantastic weekend, a year ago. I am still a little ashamed to admit that I scheduled twenty hours of bus and train rides so I could spend eighteen hours in a little Pyrenean hamlet. It was around six in the morning when I reached Tarbes, pronounced "tau(gurgle)b". When the daily food market opened, I was there, and ready to get some spitcake!

No better way to start my day!

Cross-section of the cake the patissier was free-sampling off of.

The above pictures show cakes from Le Pic Bigourdan, which as far as I can tell is an enterprise that only sells through these farmers markets. Anyway, look at that cross-section! It belies the irregularity of this type of spitcake. The dribbled batter doesn't make coherent layers. Not in this bakery's cakes, at least...
I bought a small cake from Le Pic Bigourdan and carried on. After some misdirection and a delightful run-in with an Esperantist, I reached the Védère Café in Montgaillard, which I mentioned in my previous gâteau post! Before buying another cake, I tried a slice in their dining-car-turned-café.


I was surprised to see a spitcake sliced into quadrangles rather than rings! Their website shows gâteaux sliced into rings, so I can't tell which is the norm for this region and which is avant-garde presentation. And wow, I thought that other bakery's cakes had irregular layering! This is so unlike baumkuchen! What a wonderful, diverse spitcake universe exists!
I bought a cake from Védère, got smashed on some phenomenal local beers, and miraculously awoke at home in Madrid. Over the next couple of weeks, I tore down those two spitcakes with the help of friends and family.

Spitcakes, pre-teardown.

My cake from Le Pic Bigourdan.

My cake from Le Pic Bigourdan was very hearty, not too sweet, with vanilla and an indistinct liqueur flavoring. I love the appearance of the cross section.

My cake from Biscuiterie Védère.

My cake from Védère was surprisingly moist, considering how thin the cake was. A strong taste of rum and eggs, and a great texture. I wish the cake were thicker, but I don't know how that would alter its good qualities.
* * *
I chose Tarbes and Montgaillard because internet research promised I could try two cakes in one outing. Having actually gone to the area, I discovered I likely could have gotten gâteaux from the town of Pau, or Lourdes, or Lannemezan, or probably any of the towns with markets (read: ALL OF THEM).

Closing this post with a pretty scene!

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