Qu’est-ce que c’est?


I have fallen in love with French patisserie books. Even if I had to sit with a dictionary to decipher every word in the recipe, I was willing to take the time to do it. Fortunately, Helen has been tutoring me every week on the French language so when I do get the chance to visit Pierre Herme or Laduree shops in Paris I’d be able to say “J’aimerais un macaron au chocolat et un tarte au citron, s’il vous plait.” (Although I’d probably be tongue-tied just ogling such beautiful displays of mouthwatering works of art)

Anyway, the most treasured of these books is Pierre Herme’s PH10. This book is a gorgeous tome – earning a special place on my bookshelf – I would not dare lay it on the kitchen counters unless I have thoroughly wiped it clean. Most of the recipes are pretty complicated and require numerous steps to complete so all I have done until now was drool at the amazing photography and wishing I was in Paris eating out of a box of macarons.

One combination that I have always wanted to explore was matcha green tea and chestnut. In Pierre Herme’s world, this duo is part of his collection known as Sarah.

Unfortunately for the ordinary home baker most of the ingredients in his book are not what you would regularly find in your supermarket. So I could not complete the whole assembly of his Cake Sarah in all its glory. I could, however make the cake itself which was all I was after anyway. I was able to find the chestnut confit in a specialty gourmet store so I was all set.

Biscuit au thé vert matcha

230 g    all purpose flour (maybe whole wheat)

7    g     baking powder

20   g    matcha green tea

150 g    chestnut confit cubes

80   g    butter

240 g    caster sugar

200 g    eggs

120 g    heavy cream

½    g    fleur de sel ( pinch of salt)

Preheat oven to 150 C (302 F)

Sift flour, baking powder, and matcha green tea then add the chesnut confit. Melt the butter and keep warm. Blend the eggs, salt and sugar in a food processor for 15 minutes. Add heavy cream and melted butter and continue to blend for another 5 minutes. Stop the food processor and fold in the flour, baking powder, green tea and chestnut confit.

Bake cakes for 20 minutes and then rotate and bake for another 20 minutes for large cakes and 15 minutes for smaller ones.

En Français

230 g    de farine de gruau

7    g     de poudre à lever

20   g    de thé vert Matcha (Japon)

150 g   de cubes de marron confit

80   g    de beurre de La Viette

240  g    de sucre semoule

200  g    d’œufs

120  g   de crème de épaisse

½     g   de fleur de sel

Tamisez ensemble la farine, la poudre à  lever et le thé vert matcha, puis ajoutez les cubes de marrons confits.  Faites fonder le beurre et laissez- le tiédre. Émulsionnez le sucre, le sel et les œufs au Robot Coupe pendent 15 minutes. Ajoutez la crème et le beurre, mélangez et poursuivez l’émulsion 5 minutes, puis retirez la cuve du Robot Coupe et incorporez à la main la farine, la poudre à lever, le thé vert Matcha et les cubes de marrons confit.


Faites cuire les cakes 20 minutes à 150 C au four ventilé. Tournez vos plaques, puis prolongez la cuisson 20 minutes pour les grands cakes et 15 minutes pour les petites.

Cooking Notes

As with most professional level cookbooks, instructions are very brief – a level of expertise is assumed and there is very much reading between the lines. I think the recipe called for whole wheat flour but I was not sure so I just used all-purpose. From the instructions, I really couldn’t understand why the eggs were blended with the sugar for 15 minutes in a food processor. Given that my food processor is in no way THE Robo-Coupe, it started to get hot at the 10-minute mark, liquid was dripping from the lid and I was starting to catch a whiff of rubber.

Not wanting to fry my food processor, I decided that the mixture was blended well enough and added the melted butter. To be honest, I was not very optimistic about the recipe at this point. I baked the cake in mini-loaf pans and it rose like a volcano – uh-oh guess I folded in the dry ingredients too much. So it was with much surprise that the cake turned out better than I expected. The subtle taste of matcha complemented the sweet chestnut confit chunks that was speckled throughout the cake. It was perfect with coffee and phenomenal with tea! Oh, and if I have translated the recipe wrong, please let me know. 🙂


Oh, and if you are curious here is the complete assembly of Cake Sarah :

pâte de fruit passion

biscuit au thé vert matcha

gelée de fruit de passion

marrons confit

sirop d’imbibage au fruit de la passion

16 thoughts on “Qu’est-ce que c’est?

  1. It look fabulous. The chesnut confit is very interesting. I will have to be on the look out for it.
    Yes, the professional books assume you know what you are doing…and sometimes I so do not. 🙂

  2. Veron – You never cease to amaze me! As if cooking wasn't enough of a challenge, you are now tackling it all in French! Tres bien! Your green tea biscuit looks delicious!

  3. Oh this is really interesting. We can get most of this ingredients in Kuala Lumpur, lol but not just from any baking suppliers and rather mix and match from other shops.
    !5minutes on the mixer should be OK!. Looks like a very simple cake but with green tea and chestnut… something for me to think about, very unique! 🙂

  4. That is a very stunning cake! I hate when recipes call for esoteric ingredients. Sometimes it makes me pine to make that recipe even more than I would if I could find those ingredients in my regular grocery store. Glad you could find the chestnut confit though!

  5. Too true, and of course, I absolutely adore both matcha and chestnuts, so I can only imagine how wonderful this tastes. At the very least I can tell you that it looks amazing!

  6. Peabody – I compared Pierre Hermes instructions for inside out puff pastry in one of his older french books and the one he had in his book with Dorie Greenspan – worlds apart!
    merci T.W. – There is just too many good looking French cookbooks and i am just impatient for them to get translated if ever!
    Hi Big boys oven – Thanks for the tip, I wonder if it would work better in a blender much like making egg custard pie. The cake itself is simple…I just added the rest of the composition. I did not want to buy passion fruit puree just for this application.
    Katie K – I did add in the heavy cream and the melted butter but forgot it in the english translation. Thanks for the correction :).
    Thanks Ashley – I know what you mean…sometimes something that seems harder makes you more determined to make it.I wonder if I could just make the chesnut confit myself…time to google.
    Thanks Hannah – I really like the taste of matcha…and now together with chestnut too!

  7. I love that you can see the bits of chestnut in the cake. I'd never have thought of combining matcha and chestnut confit, because I don't know enough about either of those ingredients. So to me this cake seems tres exotic! Happy new year to you and the HH!

  8. You are so daring!! And if I am ever to learn a second language, it will be French, so I'm jealous that you are learning it. I think it's the most beautiful language!

  9. I'm glad that the cake turned out so nicely, or else we will be competing for who has the highest volcano cake 😉

    Your French sounds pretty good. Are you intending to visit France anytime soon?

    oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!


  10. I know I look forward to our weekly lessons! It is always fun to come up with "real" examples to practice with like macarons and eclairs!
    For the cake: the flour is what you find in France as type 45, it is about 11% protein, a cross between all purpose and bread flour. 15 minutes whipping? that's kinda wild!
    I love how it turned out! Chestnut confit…mmmmmmmmmmmm!!
    Happy New Year !
    J'espere que tu t'es bien amusee lundi soir et que le champagne etait bon!

  11. Oh gosh, Veronica, I'd never heard of chestnut confit until now. I would love to get my hands on it, but I doubt I'll find any around here…that's what the internet's for I guess. I gnash my teeth everytime I see a french baking book I want that's not available in English. Even though I know a bit of French, I fear translating recipes…good for you!

  12. babe, where did you get the chestnut confit? I have NO idea where to purchase it! Anyway, good luck with your macaron business…You really put a lot of love into them! :o)

  13. Great looking Sarah!!!
    I love those mini loaf pans too!
    The French translation I got for the flour was "unhulled grain", I thought maybe it meant unbleached.
    I just got a scad of French cookbooks, including PH10, always worth the work.
    If you don't already have it, the Frederic Robert/Alain Ducasse "Grand Livre de Dessert et Pattisserie" is a phenomenal book!
    I got it in French in softcover, it was a bit more affordable that way.
    Beautiful pics, recipes are solid as a rock!
    Great work!

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