Le parfum de Nancy – Gâteau mouillé à la begamote

This is the second cake I made with bergamot, simply because they’re hard to find.  When I come back from Nancy (my hometown), I arrive in San Francisco with a head and mouth full of local flavors, and what most traditional than bergamot flavor? Les bonbons à la bergamote (bergamot candies) are a specialty from Nancy, and bergamot essence, oils, etc…are wildly use locally in baking. I was lucky enough to find in the store this bergamot, an amazing citrus that looks like a round lemon, but with an orange shape. Bergamot is supposedly the marriage of a bitter orange (orange amère) and a lime but it’s too bitter to eat like you would eat an orange, so it’s mainly used to make jams or as an aromatic scent in pastries, cakes and desserts.

What I like most about this cake is it’s moistness. I used the base of a recipe I found on a magazine called “Côté Sud/Ouest/Est/Paris” where instead of bergamot, lemon and lemoncino were the main character in this cake. You can use any citrus you like, and I am sure it would taste wonderful with oranges or even meyer lemons. Now…why do we call this “wet”? Simply because when the cake is baked and out of the oven, we pour extra bergamot juice on top to add moisture and of course flavor. If you are an Earl Grey fan, you will soon become a fan of this cake too.

Ingredients for 6 people

  • 2 large bergamots
  • 4.23 oz (or 120 g) flour
  • 4.4 oz (or 125 g) unsalted butter
  • 4.23 oz (or 120 g) granulated sugar
  • 3.52 oz (or 100 g) powdered sugar
  • 12 whole almonds, unsalted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder


Wash bergamots under running water and zest the peel using a small zester.  Squeeze the juice. Leave butter at room temperature and let it soften. In a mixing container, mix butter, add sugar and eggs. Continue beating until the mixture becomes soft and creamy.  Add flour, half of the bergamot juice and baking powder. The batter needs to be smooth. Add 2/3 of the zests.

Butter a square mold and spread batter evenly. Place almonds on top, regularly and evenly, in order that when you’ll cut squares, each square will have an almond in the middle.

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 365F for about 35 minutes. If the cake browns too fast, just place some aluminium foil on top.

In the meantime, prepare the icing or the juice mixture. Mix sugar with the rest of the bergamot juice.

When the cake is cooked, remove from oven, and pour 2/3 of the bergamot juice mixture. Add the remaining zests to the juice and pour on top of the cake when the cake gets cold.

Cut in small squares with an almond on top.