A French Poundcake in a Queens Bakery
The French pastries at Cannelle Patisserie in Jackson Heights aren't all created equal. The Choux pastries are excellent, the short pastry is generally commendable, the croissants skippable. Somewhere between those first two categories, just below the beautiful St. Honoré cream puff and right above their elegant pear tart, is this Gateau Breton ($1.50 for a slice, $9 for a whole six-inch cake).
Gateau Breton, something like the pound cake of Brittany, France, is all about a dense, buttery crumb amped up with ground almonds alongside the expected flour, eggs, and sugar. At its best it's moist but not oily, sweet but not cloying, and rich but not a doorstop. Cannelle's succeeds on all three counts, a cake that crumbles a bit at the edges like a shortbread but takes on an almond buttery softness as you work your way to the interior. If you smell something like coffee as you work your way through the cake, don't worry—there's no secret ingredient—that's just the butter and almonds working together in a beautiful way.