Nicolas Bernardé, who holds the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France for pastry making, has made the pound cake his trademark product. These cakes are offered in various flavors and colours in his boutique in La Garenne-Colombes. That is where we went to acquire one of these pound cakes, for which we prefer the name “travellers’ cake”, in a gluten-free, chocolate, hazelnut and orange flavored version. We examine it with a fine-toothed comb.
This cake is composed of a dough flavored with hazelnut flour and pieces of candied orange, topped with a thick layer of chocolate cream. The ensemble is completely coated in copper-colored flakes, reminiscent of crepes dentelle (very thin lace crepes). Finally, the spine of the cake is decorated with dollops of dark chocolate cream, roasted hazelnut halves and candied orange pieces.
The Chocolate, Hazelnut and Orange Pound Cake by Nicolas Bernardé is 185 mm long, 70 mm wide, and 60 mm high. The specimen we purchased weights 567 grams and costs 16,50 euros.
Sitting on a grey base and daintily protected by a branded crystalline box, the cake – suprisingly – releases aromas of butter and oil. The chocolate and hazelnuts are not detectable at this stage. The cake is very fresh, having been put on display only minutes before we purchased it, yet we are suprised by the texture of the copper flakes. While we were expecting them to be crunchy, they turn out to be soft. Is this due to the use of gluten-free ingredients? That is conceivable. They seem to stick to the cake thanks to an orange syrup coating. The dark chocolate cream, fine and unctous in texture, initially releases acidic notes in the mouth, before becoming more fruity. The dough itself is more granular than in conventional pound cakes made with wheat flour. It is rich and moist, and we notice the presence of hazelnuts. The cream on top of the cake would gain from being slighlty less sweet, to enable a better equilibirum with the already sweet dough and candied orange pieces. The hazelnut flavor would thus be less overshadowed by the sugar and chocolate. On the whole, however, the pairing of flavors is classic and sound, and the textures are perfectly mastered.
Here is another gluten-free pastry which keeps its promise, and which we would eat with great pleasure, quite aside from any gluten intolerance. We would have liked to find more crunchiness on the surface, but we are entirely seduced by its appearance and convinced by the richness of its flavors. This travellers’ cake is not merely a cake which you carry with you, it itself also transports you.
Score : 4,0/5 Excellent
2 place de la Liberté, 92250 La Garenne Colombes, France