The biscuit de Savoie, is really a cake, a very very light sponge cake, normally made in an attractive Kugelhopf shape mould. Its origins go way back to the 14th Century, when in 1358 in Chambery the Count Amadeus VI of Savoy asked his pâtissier to make a cake as light as a feather. The occasion was dinner with Charles IV of Luxembourg. The chef asked to create this cake was Pierre de Yenne. Yenne is a small town on lake Bourget, where to this day they claim to be the birthplace of this speciality. The recipe was refined over time with the addition of various flavourings: lime zest, cinnamon, orange blossom, vanilla etc., and icing sugar by Francois Massialot in the 17th century (who published anonymously the first dictionnaire de la cuisine, entitled ‘Nouveau cuisinier royal et bourgeois’ in 1691). He referred to the biscuit de Savoie as a gâteau.
The Biscuit de Savoie is very popular in the Savoie and Haute Savoie and can be seen in patisseries and on dessert tables throughout the region. A great tea time cake, it is often served with fruit, jams or a creme Anglaise. During my research of recipes, I discovered a few variations of types of flour used 50% of either corn flour and wheat flour or potato flour.
I have slightly adapted this recipe which I found in France Magazine but originated from Bocafina an event management and culinary school in Talloires on Lake Annecy.
Biscuit de Savoie Recipe
100g caster sugar
50g plain flour
4 large eggs
40g unsalted butter
50g flaked almonds
orange flower water – I used vanilla essence
- Preheat the oven to 190℃/gas mark 5. Grease a round 20cm shaped mould or baking tin and dust with flour before sprinkling the flaked almonds around the base.
- Separate the egg whites and yolks. Be careful to keep the bowl for the egg whites grease free. Whisk the egg yolks with half the sugar and a drop of orange flower water or vanilla essence until the mixture is very pale and thick. Add the sieved flour and cornflour without mixing them in.
- Melt the butter and allow to cool. Whisk the egg whites, adding the rest of the sugar halfway through, until they stand in peaks. Spoon the egg white mixture into the yellow mixture along with the cooled melted butter. Fold it all together.
- Pour the mixture into the mould and put it into the pre-heated oven. The cake should be ready in 30 minutes, you can insert a skewer, which will come out clean when it is baked. Allow to cool before removing it from the mould/tin.
- Serve with fruits, jam and/or creme Anglaise.This was the only recipe I found that used butter, most other recipes had no fat in. I think this cake would be lovely served with fruits marinated in alcohol too, the flavour reminded me of English sponge fingers.
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