Gâteau progres

Gâteau progres

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

This cake is a speciality of France, made as a reward for success, something to help celebrate a special achievement in one’s life. There are three basic steps in its preparation: first, the making of the nut meringue layers; second, the butter cream; and third, the layering together and finishing off. The first two steps can be done well ahead of time, and the finishing off can be done a few hours before the cake is needed.

It is traditional to dredge the top with icing sugar and pipe ‘progres’ across the centre of the cake, or sometimes, the word ‘succes’.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
145g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
5 egg whites
3 drops natural vanilla extract
1 quantity coffee butter cream
almonds, blanched, toasted and chopped, to decorate
icing sugar, for dusting

Coffee butter cream

Quantity Ingredient
110g sugar
125ml very strong black coffee
5 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
250g unsalted butter

Method

  1. Have ready 3 baking trays, each lined with baking paper on which has been marked a 20 cm circle. Preheat the oven to moderate (180°C). Sift the sugar, reserving 3 tablespoons, and ground almonds together. Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, but the mixture is not dry. Beat in the reserved sugar until the mixture is thick and glossy. Fold in the vanilla, sifted sugar and almond mixture quickly and lightly.
  2. Divide the mixture into 3 portions and spread on the baking paper circles neatly. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch. Cool on wire racks.
  3. To assemble, lay a meringue round on a serving plate and spread with half the coffee butter cream; lay the second round on top and spread with the remaining butter cream. Top with the last round and spread the sides only of the cake with the reserved coffee butter cream, keeping a little aside if you are going to pipe the top. Press the toasted almonds into the butter cream at the sides and dust the top of the cake with icing sugar. Finish by piping ‘progres’ or ‘succes’ on top. When the cake is assembled, store in the refrigerator to firm the butter cream; it also makes the cake easier to slice.
  4. To make coffee butter cream, dissolve the sugar in the coffee over a very gentle heat, then bring to the boil, boiling until the syrup falls in a thread from the spoon – if you have a sugar thermometer it should register (112°C). Beat the yolks for 1 minute, preferably using an electric beater; while still beating, add the hot syrup in a very steady slow stream. Continue beating until the mixture has cooled. Add the vanilla and then the butter in small pieces, beating well until thoroughly incorporated and the butter cream is light and fluffy. If it seems too soft, allow to chill for a few minutes.
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