French Almond-Rum Cake (Gâteau Nantais) | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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For a reliably moist cake, the French use plenty of almonds and rum
Milk Street Bowtie French Almond-Rum Cake (Gâteau Nantais)

French Almond-Rum Cake (Gâteau Nantais)

3¼ hours 25 minutes active

French Almond-Rum Cake (Gâteau Nantais)

Free

Gâteau Nantais originated in Nantes in western France. Made with generous amounts of butter, eggs and almond flour, the cake’s crumb is rich, moist and pleasantly dense, and becomes even more so after it’s brushed with a rum syrup. The classic finish is a rum icing, but with rum already in both the cake and syrup, we opted instead for a bracing lemon glaze that brings out the lemon zest in the cake, and a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds. You can serve the cake as soon as the glaze sets, but its flavor and texture improve if allowed to rest overnight at room temperature. If storing for longer, cover and refrigerate (up to three days), but bring to room temperature before serving. If you have a dark, non-stick cake pan—which transfers heat more quickly than lighter aluminum—reduce the temperature to 325°F and bake for the same time.

12

Servings

Tip

Don’t use a small saucepan to make the syrup, and don’t forget to remove the pan from the burner before pouring in the rum. These steps help ensure that the alcohol won’t ignite. After removing the cake from the pan, don’t re-invert it—leave it bottom side up, as the perfectly flat surface is easy to glaze. Finally, don’t allow the cake to cool before brushing on the syrup; absorption is better if the cake is still hot.

3¼ hours

25 minutes active

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
6 large eggs
300 grams (1⅓ cups) white sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
250 grams (2½ cups) almond flour
¼ teaspoon table salt
80 grams (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons dark rum
38 grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ cup dark rum
186 grams (1½ cups) powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed
47 grams (½ cup) sliced almonds, toasted
For the cake
  • 16

    tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan

  • 6

    large eggs

  • 300

    grams (1⅓ cups) white sugar

  • 2

    tablespoons grated lemon zest

  • 250

    grams (2½ cups) almond flour

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

  • 80

    grams (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour

  • 6

    tablespoons dark rum

For the rum syrup
  • 38

    grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon whole allspice

  • 1
  • ½

    cup dark rum

For the lemon glaze and garnish
  • 186

    grams (1½ cups) powdered sugar

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

  • 3

    tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed

  • 47

    grams (½ cup) sliced almonds, toasted

Directions
  1. 01
    To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, beat the eggs.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-1
  2. 02
    In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, white sugar and lemon zest on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the almond flour and salt, then beat on medium just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, gradually add the eggs and beat until homogenous, scraping the bowl as needed. Increase to medium-high and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the all-purpose flour and mix until incorporated, then slowly add the rum and beat just until combined. Scrape the bowl to ensure no pockets of flour or rum remain. The batter will be thick.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-2
  3. 03
    Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, then spread in an even layer and smooth the surface. Bake until deep golden brown and the center of the cake springs back when gently pressed, 50 to 55 minutes.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-3
  4. 04
    Meanwhile, to make the rum syrup, in a large saucepan combine the white sugar, ⅓ cup water, allspice and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum. Bring to a simmer over medium and cook for 2 minutes. Pour the mixture though a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl; discard the solids and set the syrup aside.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-4
  5. 05
    When the cake is done, let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto another wire rack; do not re-invert. Immediately brush the top and sides of the cake with all of the rum syrup. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Transfer the cooled cake to a platter.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-5
  6. 06
    To make the lemon glaze, in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and salt, then gradually whisk in the lemon juice; the glaze should be smooth, with the consistency of yogurt. If it is too thick, whisk in additional lemon juice ½ teaspoon at a time to attain the proper consistency.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-6
  7. 07
    Pour the glaze onto the center of the cake, then use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the glaze toward the edges, allowing just a small amount to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Let stand at room temperature to set the glaze, about 1 hour.
    See Demo
    french-almond-rum-cake-gâteau-nantais-7
Tip: Don’t use a small saucepan to make the syrup, and don’t forget to remove the pan from the burner before pouring in the rum. These steps help ensure that the alcohol won’t ignite. After removing the cake from the pan, don’t re-invert it—leave it bottom side up, as the perfectly flat surface is easy to glaze. Finally, don’t allow the cake to cool before brushing on the syrup; absorption is better if the cake is still hot.
.
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French Almond-Rum Cake (Gâteau Nantais)

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12

Servings

3¼ hours

25 minutes active

Tip

Don’t use a small saucepan to make the syrup, and don’t forget to remove the pan from the burner before pouring in the rum. These steps help ensure that the alcohol won’t ignite. After removing the cake from the pan, don’t re-invert it—leave it bottom side up, as the perfectly flat surface is easy to glaze. Finally, don’t allow the cake to cool before brushing on the syrup; absorption is better if the cake is still hot.

For the cake
  • 16

    tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan

  • 6

    large eggs

  • 300

    grams (1⅓ cups) white sugar

  • 2

    tablespoons grated lemon zest

  • 250

    grams (2½ cups) almond flour

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

  • 80

    grams (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour

  • 6

    tablespoons dark rum

For the rum syrup
  • 38

    grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon whole allspice

  • 1
  • ½

    cup dark rum

For the lemon glaze and garnish
  • 186

    grams (1½ cups) powdered sugar

  • ¼

    teaspoon table salt

  • 3

    tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed

  • 47

    grams (½ cup) sliced almonds, toasted

Step 1 of 7

Prepare Oven and Cake Pan

salted butter, room temperature, for the pan
6
large eggs

To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, beat the eggs.

Step 2 of 7

Mix Cake Batter

16
tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature,
300
grams (1⅓ cups) white sugar
2
tablespoons grated lemon zest
250
grams (2½ cups) almond flour
¼
teaspoon table salt
80
grams (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
6
tablespoons dark rum

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, white sugar and lemon zest on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.


Add the almond flour and salt, then beat on medium just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, gradually add the eggs and beat until homogenous, scraping the bowl as needed.


Increase to medium-high and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice.


With the mixer running on low, gradually add the all-purpose flour and mix until incorporated, then slowly add the rum and beat just until combined.


Scrape the bowl to ensure no pockets of flour or rum remain. The batter will be thick.

Step 3 of 7

Bake Cake

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, then spread in an even layer and smooth the surface. Bake until deep golden brown and the center of the cake springs back when gently pressed, 50 to 55 minutes.

Step 4 of 7

Create Rum Syrup

38
grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar
1
tablespoon whole allspice
1
teaspoon black peppercorns
½
cup dark rum

Meanwhile, to make the rum syrup, in a large saucepan combine the white sugar, ⅓ cup water, allspice and peppercorns. Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 3 minutes.


Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum. Bring to a simmer over medium and cook for 2 minutes.


Pour the mixture though a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl; discard the solids and set the syrup aside.

Step 5 of 7

Brush Cake With Syrup

When the cake is done, let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto another wire rack; do not re-invert.


Immediately brush the top and sides of the cake with all of the rum syrup. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Transfer the cooled cake to a platter.

Step 6 of 7

Create Lemon Glaze

186
grams (1½ cups) powdered sugar
¼
teaspoon table salt
3
tablespoons lemon juice, plus more if needed

To make the lemon glaze, in a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and salt, then gradually whisk in the lemon juice; the glaze should be smooth, with the consistency of yogurt.


If it is too thick, whisk in additional lemon juice ½ teaspoon at a time to attain the proper consistency.

Step 7 of 7

Glaze and Serve

47
grams (½ cup) sliced almonds, toasted

Pour the glaze onto the center of the cake, then use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the glaze toward the edges, allowing just a small amount to drip down the sides.


Sprinkle with toasted almonds. Let stand at room temperature to set the glaze, about 1 hour.

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