Piège Cake Recipe

Le Gâteau Piège

[Piège Cake]

Oh no, don’t worry, despite the name (piège means trap in French), this is not the sort of cake that’s designed to snap closed onto the unsuspecting, eager-for-a-slice hand. I’ve named this cake le gâteau Piège — with a capital “P” — after Jean-François Piège, chef at Les Ambassadeurs [warning: muzak ahead], who shared the recipe in ELLE a few weeks ago.

It was published there as le gâteau de mon enfance (the cake from my childhood), but I can’t reuse the exact phrase for fear of confusing the reader (this is my childhood cake), and if I name it Le Gâteau de l’enfance de Jean-François Piège, well, that’s a bit lacking in the snap department. So, le gâteau Piège it is.

Because he described it as a cross between a clafoutis and a quatre-quart, because it was orange-flavored, and because it looked easy as pie (or here, cake), it had my name written all over it. The little recipe card was creased, folded, and carefully snipped out along the dots.

My first attempt was a relative fiasco. “Fiasco” because it didn’t turn out at all like the picture or the description (in the interest of complete Rousseau-like transparency, I confess that I tried to outsmart the recipe on a few too many counts); “relative” because the mean orange pancake I retrieved from the oven was entirely to Maxence’s taste, and he polished it off rather swiftly.

But still, an orange pancake wasn’t what had rocked little Jean-François Piège’s world, and I was determined to try again, following the recipe more closely this time: I used softened butter (not just butter that you remove from the fridge, dice, and count to ten before you decide it is soft enough), regular white sugar (on second thought, Piège’s maman probably didn’t use rapadura), and the prescribed amount of baking powder (I had decreased it the first time; what can I say, it just sounded a bit much).

I also think I had used too large and juicy an orange the first time, but in my defence, the printed recipe just called for “the juice from an orange,” which left me in the dark concerning the actual amount of orange juice I was supposed to use.

And well, as one might imagine, or just plainly see from the picture above or this one, my second cake was much closer to what I had signed up for: a warmly aromatic cake, not too sweet but nicely buttery, with a soft, spongy crumb and a delicately caramelized crust that made the rim area the best part.

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Le Gâteau Piège

For the pan:
1 fat pat butter
1 heaping tablespoon sugar

For the batter:
120 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, softened (I mean it)
120 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
2 eggs
1 medium organic orange (about 200g/7oz), scrubbed
120 grams (1 cup) flour
1 sachet (1 tablespoon) baking powder
A good pinch of salt (I use salted butter so I omit this)

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter the bottom and sides of a 22- or 25-cm (9- or 10-inch) round cake pan with the pat of butter. Sprinkle with the heaping tablespoon sugar, then shake and tilt and swoosh the pan around to coat. It is fun.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one by one and mix until thoroughly combined. Grate the zest from the entire orange over the bowl. Juice the orange and add 125 mL (1/2 cup) of the juice (give or take a little) to the batter. Mix until smooth.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the flour mixture into the batter and mix until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes if you used a large pan, 25 to 30 if you used a smaller one, until the cake is golden brown and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool on a rack for ten minutes (no more, or the caramel on the crust will harden and stick to the pan), then flip onto a serving plate. Let cool completely before serving.


Things Clotilde Loves

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  • http://leonine194.canalblog.com leonine19

    i love your “gateau piège” , it looks so appetizing.

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com Linda Mathieu

    I’ve made a few of those “pancakes” myself. I had a cake fall apart once as I removed it from the pan so I just squished it all into a dish and drizzled it with frosting. It had to be eaten with a spoon but it tasted good.

  • http://www.estouest.blog.lemonde.fr est

    Yummy! it reminds me of a portugese orange cake I like to make but I’ll definitely try this one for a change. I hope I won’t fall into the trap

  • http://www.cforcooking.com Jeff

    I appreciate the fact that you tried to outsmart the recipe! CHEERS!

  • http://foodbeam.blogspot.com fanny

    Hi Clotilde,
    this cake looks yummy. A real ‘piège’ indeed – i suppose once you start eating it you can’t stop.

    – fanny

  • http://www.patoumi.blogspot.com patoumi

    Clotilde, je pense que je vais faire ce gâteau dès ce weekend puisque tu en as déjoué tous les pièges (je pense que j’aurais aussi utilisé du rapadura), sa petite croûte et son parfum d’orange me font trop envie!

  • http://www.maminaclaude.canalblog.com/ mamina

    Un piège de gourmandise surtout.

  • http://anotherfoodblog.com/ Jackie Danicki

    I just made this, Clotilde! Couldn’t resist, it sounded so nice and easy. It’s now sitting on a pretty plate, cooling and waiting for suppertime. It was very simple to make and smells like a dream. (And I say that as someone who doesn’t enjoy baking nearly as much as I do cooking.)

  • http://www.winosandfoodies.typepad.com barbara

    I’m off to buy an orange even though they are out of season and I’ll have to buy something imported.

  • http://tinyetcarot.canalblog.com Miss Tiny

    Ouf, I thought that your “gâteau Piège” was a kind of space cake, the one that make you see pink elephants flying in the air… Anyway, I like this recipe and I’ll surely try it!!!

  • http://www.willows95988.typepad.com tongue in cheek

    “Cake from my childhood,”
    or as my neice calls
    her baby sister (Kate,)
    “Baby Cake!”

  • http://blue-kitchen.com Terry B

    I really appreciate that you’re not afraid to mention your failures. I think it gives others the courage to try something, knowing that mistakes happen, but it’s not the end of the world. And then you go back and try again, ’til you get it right. Another valuable lesson–in cooking and in life.

  • dragonfly

    Since I am more cook than baker, I am always looking for an easy dessert and this one looks wonderful. Thank you!

    I too am always tweeking recipes when cooking, but my past failures have taught me that I can’t do that when baking, it’s too much of a science.

    I have friend who is a fabulous baker and she says she substitutes all the time with no problem, but I suspect that’s because she’s been practicing for years and knows what works and what doesn’t.

  • http://www.kocherlebnis.de Dido

    what a page, impressed looking arround and remember the time in france … best success, i must link it :-)

  • http://anotherfoodblog.com/ Jackie Danicki

    Clotilde, we just ate this cake (with a little Cava, after a supper of fish soup and seafood pasta, plus Dolcelatte and a good goats cheese before the sweet course) and it was DELICIOUS. In fact, everyone went back for seconds (except for Antoine’s father, who decided to save his for teatime tomorrow). Thanks for a recipe that is sure to become a favourite stand-by. (Antoine’s maman is making it tomorrow for a family party.)

  • Amanda

    The key to softening butter: grate it onto a plate or into a shallow bowl and it’ll be ready to use by the time you round up the rest of your baking ingredients. I am the queen of forgetting to take it outta the fridge in time, and this saves the day.

  • http://anotherfoodblog.com/ Jackie Danicki

    I just put mine in a mixing bowl over a pan of just-boiled water that’s been taken off the heat. This works fast, though, so don’t take your eye off it for several minutes, and try to turn the block of butter over after about 30 seconds.

  • http://www.consy.it/blog Consy

    Thanks for this recipe. I’ve just cooked it, now we wait for dinner time, slurp!

  • melissa

    Oh, it was so yum. My three-year old and I baked it as his “being such a good boy” treat. It was a hit. We’ll be making it frequently!

  • Rachel

    I’m actually a bit disappointed to learn that ‘Piege’ is the chef’s surname… at first glance I thought this was the next big thing in French sweets with sadistic-sounding names (like Poilane’s Punitions). ;D But it looks lovely, whatever you choose to call it, and I look forward to trying it myself.

  • http://www.kitchentoolz.com Chrissie

    This looks absolutely divine!

  • http://myfoodbox.blogspot.com lili63

    j’ai eu la meme idée il y a 2 semaines et j’ ai adapté la recette avec des quetsches et de l’orange sanguine .
    Il a vite disparu de la table.

  • http://Anonymouse.blogspot.com Anonymouse

    Is le Piége gateau
    For your beau?
    Then you can bake,
    An orange pancake.
    But if it’s for you,
    To the recipe be true.
    With the correct gateau Piége…
    Il avait d’ailleurs de quoi soutenir un siège.

  • http://indiankitchenrecipes.blogspot.com Jatin

    Looks great!

  • LIZ

    Hello Clotilde, I just wanted to let you know that I tried a recipe posted on your blog for strawberry pannacotta, and it turned out beautifully. thank you so much, now I’ll try more of your recipes.

  • Lisa

    I made this saturday night for the family – everyone loved it. I have never used so much baking powder before! The cake was tender and the orange flavor just right. It is very rich – small pieces were plenty. Lucky that it only takes one orange – 75% of the California orange crop was killed by freeze and oranges are becoming pricey.

  • http://potsdishesplants.blogspot.com http://potsdishesplants.blogspot.com

    Looks lovely. I will try this one.

  • Ben

    This recipe looks like it would be wonderful. One question on the instructions: How much of the zest of the orange should you grate into the bowl? The entire orange? Just a portion?

    Many thanks,


  • Lisa C.

    I made this cake and just ate my first piece. Wonderful, even though it fell a bit in the center. And I followed the directions exactly. I will have to try again.

  • Neena

    I had a huge bag of oranges, so I decided to make this cake. I doubled the recipe and baked it in 2 smallish rectangular pans. It was delicious, although it stuck to the pan and the middle had to be scraped out of the pan and patched back onto the cake. In the future, when doubling the recipe, I would recommend cutting back on the baking powder (2 tablespoons left a slightly baking powdery aftertaste) and greasing the pan very well. Otherwise, a huge success! Thank you for the great recipes and blog!

  • http://www.bfeedme.com/ Allison


  • mo

    oooh, this sounds yummy. As it is Seville oranges time now, I wonder if it works with these, too?

    And, um, Clotilde, did you change the typeface of your website?

  • Salli

    What is baking powder in french?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    So glad the recipe appeals to so many of you and turned out well for those who tried it!

    Ben – You can grate the entire orange.

    Mo – Yes, it would definitely work with any sort of orange, or any sort of citrus for that matter.

    Salli – Baking powder is called levure chimique or levure alsacienne in French.

  • Vicki

    Hello Clotilde…My daughter sent me to your blog site and I came upon your recipe for Le Gâteau Piège. I made it right away. It was delicious! And it turned out looking just like the picture. I give it an A+…..Vicki

  • https://katek.wordpress.com/ Kate

    I tried this last night since I had a dinner party for 5 and was only getting home at 5:30; I needed a quick dessert. I followed the directions exactly, and the cake was very tasty, but the baking time was definitely too short. My oven is very accurate (I use a thermometer) and I baked it about 23 minutes…The middle wasn’t quite cooked and the whole top was plain yellow, not browned, when I took it out of the pan. The outside edge looked just like your picture though! Next time I will follow my instinct and let it get golden brown instead of just golden. There will be a next time–this is so easy and tasty, despite the doughy middle!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kate – Thanks for reporting back! What size pan did you use? The 20-minute baking time, which worked for me — and I also use an oven thermometer — was for a 25-cm (10-inch) pan and thus a thinner cake. I’ve updated the recipe to indicate a longer baking time for the smaller pan / thicker cake.

  • julie

    j’ai essaye la recette hier soir … et suis desesperee de voir que tout le monde a reussi sauf moi … je crois l’avoir suivie a la lettre cependant, mais le resultat etait trop sec, la pate tres dense avant cuisson et avec un fort gout de farine ou de levure … loin d’etre le succes espere. Je vais reessayer en mettant plus de beurre et en arrosant de jus d’orange a mi-cuisson. Ce gateau me fait trop envie …

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Julie – Désolée d’apprendre que ça n’a pas marché pour toi. Si ta pâte était très dense avant cuisson, c’est peut-être que tu t’es trompée en mesurant la farine: les quantités indiquées donnent normalement une pâte assez liquide. As-tu mesuré la farine avec une balance?

  • http://boisdejasmin.typepad.com Victoria

    Clotilde, while I am overcoming my fear of gratin, I made this cake today. It turned out to be absolutely perfect–luscious interior, with the delicate crunch of the crust. I did have to bake it for about 30 minutes, since I used a 9 inch pan. Thank you for the recipe! I know that I shall be making it again and again.

  • http://kitchenchick.com Kitchen Chick

    Oh my goodness. I know what I’m making for dessert this Friday. I thinking about trying it with a mild custard sauce, or maybe a vanilla gelato…

  • husky

    tasty. I like it!

  • julie

    j’ai mesure la farine dans un verre mesureur, mais tu dois avoir raison, l’erreur vient certainement de la farine car ma pate etait loin d’etre liquide, elle ne coulait pas dans le moule et j’ai du l’etaler a la spatule … mauvais signe, non ? je vais retenter l’experience ce soir ! cela dit je l’ai regoute apres l’avoir laisse une nuit au refrigerateur et il n’est pas si mal … mais peut mieux faire, certainement. Merci encore !

  • Tari

    Bonjour Clotilde,

    Found your blog when I was searching for macaroon recipes.

    This cake looks like Torta di Limone ( Lemon cake). I will ddefinitely bake Torta d’ Arancia ( Orange cake or Piège Cake) this weekend.

  • https://katek.wordpress.com/ Kate

    Ah, I wonder if that was it–I used a 9-inch (the larger of the sizes in the recipe). I have to say, it’s a really simple and addictive cake and I can’t wait to try again and try to get the cooking time right so the whole thing is the same tender, yummy crumb as the outsides of mine! I am a cake person and don’t like frosting, so things like this are my favorite. Maybe I’ll use a lemon next time…..

  • Victoria

    I made this cake on Saturday. I followed the directions explicitly – even weighed the ingredients rather than measuring with cups. It was a gorgeous, delicious dream. It was wonderful on its own and also with cream softly whipped with Mathilde Orange Liqueur X.O. Definitely a keeper.

  • Victoria

    I just noticed some other comments here so need to add to my comment above. When I made the cake, I used a 9-inch pan and baked it for exactly 20 minutes as called for in the recipe, and it turned out fine. It was a beautiful color, and the crunch on the exterior was divine. You must pay careful attention to the instruction to remove the cake from the pan after only 10 minutes of cooling. I found the directions to be clear and work well. I keep a thermometer in my oven so I know the exact temperature, which really helps in baking – although I cook more than I bake.

  • Anna

    I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now and I just wanted to say I thought the writing in this post was excellent. The phrase “mean orange pancake” has been knocking around in my head for the past few days. Also, a friend made this cake to bring over for dinner, and it was excellent. So thank you!

  • Jo

    Hi Clotilde.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe, which I followed with delicious results. I had a small problem when flipping the cake – part of the bottom stuck to the pan. Perhaps I should have flipped it a bit earlier (I literally stuck to the 10 minutes tip!) or maybe be more generous when buttering the pan. Other than that though, very yummy!

  • http://kenboy.livejournal.com Ken

    WOW. I’ve been reading you forever, and I think this is the first recipe I’ve tried. This is fantastic! It’s very light and airy, and my whole family is devouring it right now. And it took NO time to make.

  • Rachel

    This is similar to an orange cake I make, and I find that the most heavenly combination is to add a generous quantity of poppy seeds to the mixture so that it’s thickly speckled.

  • kim

    Hello, Clotilde. I hope you’ll be able to help me! How long did you cream your butter and sugar for? I did it just till the mixture became smooth, and then added room temp. eggs, but the mixture curdled, and lumped. The crumbs of the cake were very large and defined.

    I’m sure that all my ingredients were room temperature… think you might be able to save me? Your’s looks wonderful.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Kim – I’m sorry this didn’t turn out well for you; I’m not exactly sure what could have happened. Can you tell me what sort of mixer/utensil you used to cream the butter and then add the eggs?

  • Gwen

    Bonjour Clotilde,

    J’ai fait ce gâteau comme dessert après un dîner avant-hier soir, et pour une fois j’ai suivi la recette à la lettre (enfin presque: j’ai juste utilisé du sucre rapadura pour le caramel, pas pour le gâteau lui-même). Super bon, mais dense et riche après un repas ! Aussi, dans un moule de 25cm, ça produit un gâteau assez raplapla, la prochaine fois j’en ferai plus (c’est mon plus petit moule).

    J’avais une question toutefois: à quoi diable sert la levure là-dedans ? Il faudrait que je retente sans, car vraiment le gâteau n’a pas levé (enfin si, au milieu et tant qu’il était au four, mais dès que je l’ai sorti il est redevenu plat). Si je voulais le refaire en plus aéré, que faudrait-il changer ? Battre les blancs en neige ? J’ai plein d’idées de variations sur ce gâteau (faire un croisement avec un financier, ajouter des épices pour l’orientaliser un peu…)

    Merci !

  • Addi

    Thank you again for this wonderful cake recipe! Every year we receive a beautiful box of citrus from Texas and for the past three years I have taken the box from the delivery man and giggled my way to the kitchen, taken out a stick of butter to soften and made this wonderful treat.

    Like many of the above posters, I have problems with the cake sticking to the pan. I cut out a round of parchment paper and stick it to the bottom of the pan, grease and sugar on top of the paper. The paper has never come off with the cake, the cake has never stuck to the pan and the caramelized sugar is still present around the edges of the cake.

  • http://www.eend.nl/dfc marrije

    Hello Clotilde! I have made this cake a number of times now, and it is always delicious. This week, I made it for the first time with grapefruit. Which also works really well :-) Thanks for a lovely recipe.

  • krina

    Oh, My, God.
    It was heaven at first bite……….
    WOW. I LOVE orange flavoured cakes and this turned out to be SUPER delicious.
    Fluffy and the orange flavour was so rich and not too sweet… everything was just right !!!
    hehe but i cheated. I added a whopping tbsp of grandmarnier+vanilla because I didn’t squeeze a full 1/2cup of orange juice.. and it worked out really well..
    here are some pictures.. if you’re interested..

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m so pleased — thanks for the pictures!

  • Kartik

    Hi Clotilde,
    This cake was absolutely delicious. The orange flavor from the zest (I zested two since I love oranges) and the juice cannot be matched. This might be considered blasphemy, but is it possible to add chocolate chips to this?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      It’s *always* possible to add chocolate chips. :) I myself prefer chopped chocolate to chocolate chips (which have weird things in them to prevent melting) but other than that, you have my blessing.

  • http://bettysbites.blogspot.com betty

    this looks so good thanks for sharing xx

  • Ana

    Yum! This was so light and delicious, I loved it! I will definitely make this again and again.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’m happy to hear it, Ana, thanks!

  • Sabrina

    Just made this cake for friends and everyone loved it!!! Thanks for sharing.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Happy to hear it, Sabrina, thanks for reporting back!

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