Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Gateau Recipe

Ok - having been asked, here is -ta-da- my family's Christmas Chestnut Gateau recipe. My mum first made it for my grandparents' Golden Wedding in (I think) 1957 - and she got it off a BBC TV cookery programme. We've made it every year since. 

No, it's got nothing to do with Mary Berry or the Hairy Bikers. I *think* it's Austrian. No baking required!

1 tin of plain chestnut puree, about 1lb / 450grams (not the sweetened kind)
8oz butter / 250g
4oz icing sugar / 120g
(The original recipe suggested equal quantities of all three, but I find that too sweet. It also had a raw egg yolk in it, which I don't use.)
2 packs of "boudoir" sponge finger biscuits (ie, 40-50 of them; buy more rather than less because you can always use them up!)
10fl. oz strong black coffee / 0.5 pint, 250g (ish)
1 tablespoon of plain cocoa
1 tablespoon of brandy

1/2 pint of Double cream / 250g (ish)
Warm and whip the butter, beating in the icing sugar, chestnut puree, brandy and cocoa, and a tablespoon of the strong coffee. You should have a stiffish but spreadable mixture.

Line an 8 inch diameter loose based / spring case baking tin with cling-flim, enough to cover the base, come up the sides and lap over to the opposite side.

Pour black coffee into a 6 inch diameter or so shallow dish or plate. Dip the sponge fingers individually, quickly in and out, wetting both sides, and lay them closely side by side
, in the tin, all pointing in the same direction. Set the sugary side upward. If you start with the first ones pointing at the join in the tin you'll have a reference point for the direction of the next layer. When the layer is complete, use 1/3 of the chestnut mix to make a filled layer, level it and turn the tin through 90 degrees so the next layer of sponge fingers runs across the first rather than the same way.

Repeat till you have 3 layers of filling and 4 of sponge fingers, putting the last layer of sponge fingers sugary side down.

Complete wrapping the gateau, using the cling film that's been hanging outside the tin. Put a shallow plate on top and press down gently to consolidate the cake.

At this point you can freeze and store the cake for a month or more; but you can use it after a few hours in the fridge.

To finish:  about 1/2 pint of Double cream, and a little of the icing sugar, strong coffee, and cocoa

Unwrap the top of the cake, set a serving plate on top, upside down, then invert both so the cake ends up on the plate, then remove the cling film entirely. 

Whip the double cream with a spoonful of the coffee and a teaspoonful of icing sugar to soft peaks (not stiff, because the sponge layers will absorb some of the moisture). Coat the cake with it. If you've got sponge fingers left over, halve them and press them against the outer edge of the cake so they stand upright like a fence (they help with measuring serving portions!) Dust the top lightly with sifted cocoa.

Servings -  approx 12 2-finger segments or fewer if you're greedy like us!

*** NOTE 1 - the original recipe used a pound of chestnuts rather than a tin of puree - you boil the chestnuts, peel and skin them, then blitz them and push them through a sieve. The texture is fluffier, dryer and not so solid as the tinned puree.

***NOTE 2 - Boudoir sponge fingers are also, I think, known as ladyfingers. However, I've made this recipe successfully with a couple of home-made fatless sponge cakes, split into half inch thick layers, and with commercial "flan" cases.


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