Reine Claudes

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My mom has in her garden a large tree of  reine-claudes (English: greengage; German: Reneklode), named after Claude (1499–1524), the Duchess of Brittany. Every other year its brunches break (literally) under the heavy weight of its fruits. They are ripe now while we are here on vacation, and we are busy with cooking jam, making compote, canning and freezing the delicious fruits. And of course we are eating them en masse straight from the tree.

The reine-clade is a wonderful rather old fashioned fruit. It has soft and juicy flesh and a delicate skin. I guess because it cannot be transported so easily, and has only a short self-life it lost its attraction to the food industry and thus is barely known anymore (even though it was cultivated in the gardens of Washington and Jefferson!). My mom knew it from her childhood and she planted this tree in her garden a few years ago. We love its fruits very much and we bake a delicious sheet cake almost every day, while the fruits last. By now I made this cake often enough to finally actually measure the ingredients and write it down (I am very much a rule-of-thumb kind of gal when it comes to cooking and baking….).

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Reine-Claude Cake:

For a baking sheet of ca. 30x40cm.

Yeast Dough:

  • 500g flour (I prefer spelt flour)
  • pinch of salt
  • handful sugar
  • 1 pack of dry yeast
  • 250-300ml hand warm milk
  • 1 egg

For the topping:

  • 1-1.5kg reine-claudes
  • 200g sour cream
  • 150g heavy cream
  • sugar and cinnamon (I prefer brown sugar)
  1. Mix flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Dissolve the dry yeast in one cup of hand warm milk (the milk must not bee too hot!) and add it together with the beaten egg and the rest of the milk to the flour. Mix everything well. The dough should be still a bit sticky. It depends a lot on the type of flour how much liquid it can absorb. I always prefer the dough to be rather a tick too soft than too firm, for this cake I prefer the dough to be rather soft and sticky.
  3. Let the dough sit for an hour or so in a warm place until it at least doubled in volume. Then beat it down.
  4. Preheat oven at 180 C.
  5. Butter a baking sheet and spread the dough onto the baking sheet. Since the dough is still quite sticky, this is best done with wet or floured hands.
  6. Cut the reine-claudes in half, take out the pits and cut the halfs once more half way through as if to quarter them, such that you get a pair of “ears”, and lay them flat inside-up on the dough.
  7. Mix sour cream and heavy cream and poor over the reine-claudes.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the sugar-cinnamon mix.
  9. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for ca. 45 min or until the dough starts to brown.

I love it best fresh, as soon as it is cool enough to bite into it. But it is also delicious when sneaking it from the pantry in the middle of the night or to have it for breakfast the next morning. When lunch time comes around it is typically time to prepare for the next batch…. Btw, this cake is also great with any other type of juicy fruit like mirabelles , plums or berries.

Bon appétit !

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