Stoked to Have Yolks: Hazelnut Gâteau Breton

After making a double batch of banana whoopie pies, I found myself with an extra ten egg yolks on hand; each batch of the chocolate Swiss meringue filling required five egg whites. Whenever I make a recipe that produces a few extra egg whites or yolks, I don't feel bad about just tossing them. But with so many leftover yolks, I felt compelled to find a recipe to use them up. I briefly considered making banana pudding, as I also had some overripe bananas on hand. But I was in the mood for a new recipe, so I decided to try the Hazelnut Gâteau Breton from It only calls for seven yolks, but I figured that was close enough.

This cake is quite easy and you don't even need a mixer; the most time-consuming step was roasting and peeling the hazelnuts. Once you've prepped the hazelnuts, you grind them in the food processor with sugar and set them aside. You whisk six egg yolks with vanilla and more sugar, add in the ground hazelnut mixture and melted butter, and incorporate sifted flour. My batter was so dry and unmanageable when I tried to fold in the flour that I added another egg yolk to help moisten it a bit (and I was all too happy to donate another yolk to the cause!). The recipe calls for vanilla sugar, but since I didn't have any prepared, I just scraped the seeds from one vanilla bean and mixed it into the sugar.

You spread the batter into a pan, smooth the top, brush on an egg yolk glaze, and mark the top by drawing lines with the tines of a fork. Because of the egg glaze, the top of the cake became alarmingly dark during baking, and I was afraid that I had burned it.

The cake reminded me of a hockey puck when I unmolded it -- a perfectly flat dark cylinder that was heavy, dense, and not particularly appetizing. However, the cake cut cleanly to reveal a beautiful golden interior, and much to my surprise and delight, it was delicious. The flavor is so straightforward, but the cake is elegant and immensely satisfying, even when eaten plain with no accompaniment.

One thing I immediately noticed was that the cake was lacking salt; I had completely overlooked the fact that the recipe called for salted butter. We never have salted butter in the house, and I would have just added a little salt if I had been paying attention. Salt definitely would have sharpened the flavor, but I still loved the gâteau even without it (that said, next time I am definitely adding salt!).

I am clearly going to have to start making more angel food cakes, macaroons, and the such -- because I need to keep up my yolk supply so that I can keep making this cake again and again.

Recipe: "Hazelnut Gâteau Breton" from

Previous Post: "Salt Is the Spice of Life," March 2, 2010.


Yum, this sounds amazing...Super delicious i bet. Thanks for sharing.