Angels on its Shoulders – Gâteau Trois Frères (Three Brothers Sponge Cake) by Susan Wolfe

Hello my friends!

Today I have a very special friend who agreed to guest post for me. Please welcome Susan Wolfe! You must already be familiar with Susan, who cooks and entertains at The Well-Seasoned Cook.

I have known Susan ever since I started blogging about 2.5 years back. My very first introduction to The Well-Seasoned Cook, was when Susan had come by and had left a comment in one of my posts. I was delighted to finally have someone visit me. Susan is the creator of the rocking food event My Legume Love Affair.  I love love love her “tiny kitchen”; visiting her blog is like going to foodie school. She “globe trots”  in her “galley kitchen”. And as you read through her posts, you would know exactly what that means. A galley kitchen she might have, but what goes on there is far from tiny. I have been globe trotting with her, learning from her every single post – new ingredient, new techniques, new recipes. And her recipe today is a perfect example of one.

Besides the recipes, reading through Susan’s blog is a literary journey. She writes so beautifully that I usually read her posts at least twice before I have to tear myself away from her page and then go back and read them again. Her recipes are eclectic, and her style elegant and elevated. My weakly chosen words will not do justice to her talent. And did I mention her photographs? They are professional,  and calming. An astonishing combination of the unique exotic recipes, which she brings home with warmth and eloquence of her words, and the unforgettable photographs makes her blog the most interesting and desirable place to be. I won’t speak another word here. After you are done reading through the recipe, head over to The Well-Seasoned Cook to experience another world for yourself.

I will allow Susan to take over now.

Gateau Trois Freres

This is an informal and very unscientific survey, so you will forgive me in advance for natural assumptions. Now, please raise your hand if you’ve even heard of a Gâteau Trois Frères? Hmmmm…one hand…two, do I see two?…I thought so. And that one hand, I think, is my own.

When you first discover this brilliantly French invention of a confection, it is hard to say just what it is that’s most intriguing about it: its shallow, tubular tin is marked with curved hummocks like a sensually shouldered savarin; its texture is of very fine and tight butter sponge with a springy crumb; and it is flecked with candied angelica, an herb often elusive to those who reside outside of Europe.


Source: Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany. Permission granted to use under GFDL by Kurt Stueber.

Born in the 1700s by the famed Parisian Julien Brothers (all three of them, I would imagine), the cake remained popular until the advent of the more elegant and elaborate entremets which we instantly envision when we dream of pâtisserie. I find this such a shame. Although I would never be one to snub my nose at an Alhambra nor a Clichy, there is some kind of voluptuous simplicity to a Trois Frères that puts it head and those shoulders above the rest of the repertoire. And that, by its essential and original use of rice flour makes it a natural fancy to strike the fancy of the gluten-free baker, who is sometimes hard pressed and challenged by the fiddly kitchen experiments necessary for such a specialized diet. If this isn’t a heaven-sent dessert, I’ll have a devil of a time knowing what is.


Gâteau Trois Frères (Three Brothers Sponge Cake)

(Adapted from the recipe in The Art of the Cake – Modern French Baking and Decorating by Bruce Healy and Paul Bugat)

Ingredients: (Serves 8 – 12 depending on how many “shoulders” your mold has. Even a small piece is very satisfying.)

  1. 1/3 cup unsalted butter less 1 tablespoon, melted and set aside to cool
  2. 4 room-temperature eggs, separated
  3. ½ cup and 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  4. 1/3 cup and 2 teaspoons rice flour
  5. 1 teaspoon almond extract
  6. ½ cup apricot, peach, or pineapple jam, heated and strained after measuring
  7. ½ cup blanched, slivered almonds, coarsely crushed with heal of a heavy glass, before toasting briefly in a dry skillet
  8. 3 tablespoons small dice of candied angelica root* (use any other candied fruit or peel such as citron, lemon, orange, pineapple, or cherries if you cannot find angelica)


Preheat oven 375 ° F.

Grease a five-cup ring mold with non-stick spray. (It is not essential that you use a Trois Frères mold.) Beat egg yolks and ½ cup sugar in a large bowl until they are thick, pale, and smooth (about 5 minutes). Add 1 egg white (a scant ¼ cup) to yolk mixture and beat in. With clean, dry beaters and in a separate bowl, beat remaining egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar to fortify and gloss the peaks. Sift and stir rice flour into yolk mixture. Stir in extract followed by a third of the beaten egg whites (use a plastic or wood spatula). Gently fold in remaining egg whites. Gently fold in melted, cooled butter. Pour batter evenly into greased pan. Rap pan against counter to level batter. Bake for 20 minutes on center rack of oven or until lightly browned, and a skewer inserted in cake tests clean. Remove from oven and let cool for ten minutes. Invert cake onto large cooling rack. Let cool completely before brushing cake with preserves, dusting with toasted crushed almonds, and pressing candied pieces into top and sides. Cake is best served same day it is baked, but keeps well under a plastic bowl at room temperature.

*Candied angelica can be found online at Market Hall Foods.

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14 comments to Angels on its Shoulders – Gâteau Trois Frères (Three Brothers Sponge Cake) by Susan Wolfe

  • anh

    Susan’s work is remarkable! Love it to bits. But I adore the person behind the blog a lot more. 😉

    Love this cake. The shape, the golden crumb. Delicious words to read, too!

  • A lovely guest post and fabulous cake! I didn’t know this speciality. I really love the way it looks.



  • Susan that is a gem and I agree with Soma. You do weave a delicious magic with your words. 🙂

  • wow, what an amazing looking cake, its pan and the recipe, love it 🙂

  • Dear Soma,

    Thank you so very much for the opportunity to guest blog on eCurry. It was an extremely pleasurable excuse to research and tinker for a recipe that would be special enough for your esteemed site. Your kind intro is very humbling and dear to read. I wish you all kinds of sweet experiences in your summer travels and look forward to more of the eCurry experience upon your return.

  • Brilliant post from two of my favourite bloggers. Just fabulous!

  • Lovely guest post from one of my favorite bloggers! What a unique cake 🙂

  • BEAUTIFUL pictures and a wonderful recipe. Thanks!

  • lovely cake and guest post Soma
    happy to see a your post here Susan

  • What more is there to say than: stunning!

  • Anh – Thank you. You are such a sweetie, as sweet as this cake. Trust me, this cake is sweet!

    Thanks, Rosa. I thought, perhaps, since you are European, that there was a slight chance that you may have heard of this cake, but I do know that it is not in vogue anymore. I doubt I would ever have heard of it myself had I not gotten that specialty cake cookbook.

    Jaya – Thanks so much. Despite the glamorous look (much of it due to the pan), it was an easy-ish cake to bake.

    Priya – Thank you. It is very unusual, even for me, who is always curious about what is around the culinary corner. ; }

    Thank you, Jacqueline!

    Xiaolu – Thank you. It’s really just a very fancy French bundt, invented centuries before the bundt cake was. : D

    Thank you, Miri!

    Akheela – Thank you. It was lovely for Soma to invite me. It was a very sweet experience.

    Yasmeen – Thank you so much. Very kind.

  • What a beautiful guest post Soma! Love it and yellow of the cake is so cool and soothing. Well done Susan 🙂

  • Thanks very much, dear Kulsum. Outside of the ease and flavor, I loved how cheerful it is. : }

  • What a lovely idea! And of course your hand would be one of only two already familiar with it (nope, the other wasn’t mine!). 😉 It looks beautiful and I have no doubt the taste is heavenly,t oo!

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