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Tarte au sucre from the north of France is not your sugar pie from Quebec. It’s a sugar yeast cake more similar to brioche. It’s light and airy topped with butter and brown sugar, more like a rustic coffee cake.

This tarte au sucre recipe calls for a special brown-colored, free-pouring sugar that you can find in France called cassonadeCassonade is very similar to what you may know as raw sugar or turbinado sugar. Raw sugar as well as cassonade are wonderful products, arguably better for you then white sugar because they have not been so processed. If you’ve never tried raw sugar, you may like to check it out as a tasty alternative to heavily processed white sugar. You could also use light brown sugar to make this tart, although the result will be somewhat different (don’t worry, nothing drastic). Do buy a quality brown sugar however.

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Did you know that the trade block imposed on the English by Napoleon Bonaparte between 1806 and 1808 stopped the sugar getting through to France from the colonies? To make-do, sugar was extracted from sugar beet, a plant readily found in the North of France. This is why today France is a world leader in sugar beet production. Enjoy this deliciously sweet tart!

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 250 g / 2 cups flour

  • 125 g / 8 tablespoons softened butter

  • 1 egg

  • 100ml /  1/3 cup whole milk

  • 10 g /   1 1/2 teaspoons baker’s yeast

  • 10 g / 2 teaspoons sugar

  • a pinch of salt

For the topping:

  • 125 g / 2/3 cup vergeoise blonde sugar

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 2 tablespoons liquid cream

  • 20 g / 1 1/2 tablespoons butter softened

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F
Slightly heat the milk
Add the sugar and dilute the yeast in it
Put the flour in a bowl and make an indentation in the middle
Add the softened butter, egg and salt and knead the pastry well
Form the pastry into a ball
Let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours
When it has doubled its size, roll it out and line a buttered tart tan with it
Mix all the sugar, egg yolk, cream and butter
Spread the vergeoise sugar mixture over the surface of the pastry
Leave about one cm on the sides empty
Put some butter flakes over the tart and put in the oven for 30 minutes .

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