Mercotte gave us a right royal treat this week, le gateau de Compiègne, non other than the Emperor Napoleon’s wedding cake, invented by the first great pâtissier, Marie-Antoine Carême. In Carême’s day, cakes were really extravagant as the picture later in the post shows, so I wanted to really pay homage to him with the decoration and also make something fit for an Emperor’s wedding.
The cake is basically a brioche which has been fed with a (boozy!) rum and citrus fruit syrup, topped with pineapple and glacé cherries. Although exotic, pineapples would have been readily available at the time as they were grown in the greenhouses of the rich and famous all over Europe. The technical part consists of making the brioche mixture which is tricky as it is very wet but then drying it out so that it’s not too soggy when you feed it with the syrup.
Mercotte required that you bake it in a Kouglof mould which gives it the architectural look which contemporary moulds would have provided. This is a traditonal cake from the Alsace region of France which has equivalents all over the German-speaking world where it’s known variously as a (are you ready) kougelhof, kugelhof, kugelopf, kougelhopf, kugelhopf, kouglouf , kugelhupf, gugelhupf, fùrmekùùche, or bábovka. It’s similar also to the Pandoro, a cake from Verona in Italy which was part of the Austrian Empire when the cake was invented. It’s interesting to note however, that Napoleon’s wedding for which the cake was invented was to Marie-Louise of Austria
So, here is my Compiègne (named for the town where Napoleon and Marie-Louise tied the knot). For the recipe check out Mercotte’s blog here. And bon appetit!