Nothing could be more pure and simple than a slice of Gateau Sirop—a Cajun syrup cake. This classic dessert is built on sugarcane, one of the iconic ingredients of Acadiana, and a staple in every bayou kitchen. And Gateau Sirop is one of the most popular menu items at one of Acadiana’s most popular eateries.
There are few places in the world that succeed in walking the line between unspoiled and over-hyped; Café des Amis is one such place (Editors note: Café des Amis is currently closed for renovation). The sleepy little town of Breaux Bridge on the banks of the Bayou Teche has many treasures, and this small French café is its crown jewel. Every Saturday morning at 9am the line starts for the 10am Zydeco stomp in the middle of this historic 1890s restaurant turned honky-tonk for four hours each weekend.
You are just as likely to see a tour bus full of French tourists as a local family enjoying breakfast. The menu is chock full of creative spins on the Cajun classics; boudin paired with eggs Benedict or the “pigs ear” fried pastry dusted with powdered sweetness or the Eggs Begnaud–two farm fresh eggs classically poached and seated on a grilled biscuit pedestal crowned with a halo of Louisiana crawfish tails bathed in a buttery etouffeé sauce. I could go on and on.
Chef Mark Roberthon’s menu rocks with a Zydeco back-beat rhythm and roots soul infused with a swamp-pop punch. And that punch at the end of the meal is a knockout Gateau Sirop that lays you out and is my sole reason for the fifteen-mile trek. This spiced, dark, rich cake oozing with sugarcane is an ethereal pastry that the chef nonchalantly describes as a simple syrup cake or what Cajun cooks know as an everyday cake. Cane syrup and molasses are a basic staple of every household in Acadiana and this cake puts to tasty use a common ingredient.
While the humble chef from Pont Breaux describes it as simple, I contend that in the hands of Chef Roberthon, it is a memorable occasion when a slice of Gateau Sirop is placed in front of me.
Pass the syrup please.
- 2 cups canola oil
- 3½ cups sugarcane syrup, such as Steen's
- 2 cups sugar
- ⅔ cup dark sugarcane molasses, such as Steen's
- 4 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups boiling water
- 8 large eggs
- 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 4 teaspoons ground cloves
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 4 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- Sugarcane syrup, for serving
- Powdered sugar, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the oil, cane syrup, sugar, and molasses.
- In a separate container, stir the baking soda into boiling water and add to the syrup mixture. Add all the remaining ingredients, other than the pecans and beat well.
- In a 12 x 20 greased baking pan, pour all contents.
- Place the pan on the center rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan and add chopped pecans to the top, and bake for another 15 minutes, until the cake is done throughout.
- Slice and serve drizzled with cane syrup and dusted with powdered sugar.
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