Gateau is the French word for cake. This recipe is a very unique take on the concept of “cake”. The history seems to suggest that the Savoyard cake with potatoes and bacon was a fairly recent creation. It is a Tartiflette from the Savoy region that originated in the valley of Aravis. This is the home of reblochon cheese, first made in the 13th century. It is a very soft cheese that ages 6-8 weeks. During the 1980s the sales of reblochon cheese was lagging. The Reblochon trade union “invented” the tartiflette in an attempt to increase sales of their cheese. The recipe is based on an old recipe called pêla consisting of frying potatoes, onions, butter, salt, pepper and reblochon cheese. The tartiflette was a tremendous success even to this day and is served in winter resorts, as an apres-ski meal. Although there have been many different variations of this cake, the original recipe has only a few ingredients, potatoes, cheese, and bacon or salt pork. Obviously, the original cheese was reblochon, but recipes suggest multiple other types of cheeses including cheedar. Different regions in France have similar recipes, for example the dish Pâté aux pommes de terre, from Limousin, is a potato pie lacking cheese.
For this recipe I used a flan pan which worked very well. This is a very filling dish and only a small slice will be enough if served as a side dish. Once cooked in the flan pan flip it over onto a plate for serving.
Gateau Savoyard aux pommes de terre et lard (Savoyard cake with potatoes and bacon)
- 1½ pounds Russet potatoes
- 1 white onion
- 8 ounces French cheese* e.g., Comté
- 8 prunes, pitted
- 4 tbsp golden raisins
- ~12 pieces bacon (enough to cover the bottom and top of the "cake". Have extra available.
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground white pepper
- Kitchen spray
- Peel, wash and grate the potatoes on a box grater.
- Place the grated potatoes in a kitchen towel and squeeze as much of the water out as possible.
- Thinly slice the onions, you can use a mandoline. Then break them apart into single pieces.
- Place the potatoes in a bowl and add the onion, cheese, prunes, raisins, salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Taste the mixture and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- In a round cake pan, I used a flan pan which worked very well, spray the pan with kitchen spray.
- Line the pan with the bacon. You want it completely covered, so overlap the bacon a bit. Let the bacon slices fold over the pan so you can cover the top of the cake with the bacon.
- Add the potato mixture, and tap down, carefully, with the pan to settle a bit.
- Fold over the bacon to cover the "bottom" of the cake. Remember you will be flipping the cake over onto a serving plate.
- Add extra pieces of bacon as needed to cover.
- In a roasting pan, place the cake pan and add water to come up toe 1/3 to 1/2 the side of the cake pan.
- Bring the oven up toe 375 degrees F, then place the roasting pan in the oven.
- Bake ~ 2 hours. Check regularly the cake and interior temperature. The interior of the potato cake should come to over 180 degrees.
- Remove the pan and set on a cooling rack. This is a critical step. If you try to flip the cake at this point it will fall apart. Let it cool for 10 minutes or so.
- Place the serving plate on top of the cake pan and with oven mits flip over the cake. It should fall out without problem as one whole onto the serving plate.
- Slice and serve.