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Massepain au Beurre

I did something I probably shouldn’t have done when you’re an invited guest: I brought a dessert that I had never tested before. I was looking through my grandmother’s recipes and saw le massepain au beurre, a name I didn’t totally understand but the instructions were simple and I understood that butter was a major ingredient which is always a good idea, so I decided to go with it.



  • 1 lb butter
  • 1 lb sugar
  • 1 lb flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 eggs
  • lemon zest
  • orange juice and zest
  • 4 teaspoons of cafe d’elevation*

I read the list of ingredients, as shown above, and didn’t understand what my grandmother meant when she wrote “cafe d’elevation” – elevated coffee…what?! – so I called my dad. He explained that she simply made a mistake and meant “poudre d’elevation,” baking powder, and probably 2 teaspoons.** He also said that the recipe is for a short cake, to make sure to do every step separately since the texture of the cake wouldn’t turn out well otherwise, and it would make a lot so I might want to consider cutting it in half. Now the recipe made more sense. Thanks, Dad!

*4 teaspoons of baking powder


Here are my grandmother’s instructions with a few helpful, clarifying additions from me:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat the butter into a cream.
3. Add the sugar in small quantities.
4. Separate the yolks from the whites and set the whites aside.
5. Beat the egg yolks well and then add them to the butter/sugar mixture and beat together.
6. Add orange juice (I spilled probably a tablespoon into the mixture).
7. Add the zest of an orange and a lemon and a few drops of vanilla or vanilla essence. (I added a little bit of each since I’m not a huge citrus fan.)
8. Beat all together.
9. Beat the egg whites separately until they look like snow. Admittedly, mine didn’t come out that successfully, but I hope that didn’t matter.
10. Add the egg whites to the mixture and beat everything together.
11. Mix the baking powder and flour together in a separate bowl.

**Even though the ingredients say 4 teaspoons, I forgot to recheck that amount after talking to my dad and only used two teaspoons, which I realized in the middle of writing this post. Oops!

12. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix all together.
13. Add a little bit of milk to soften the mixture a bit. (I’m not quite sure what I was supposed to be looking for here so I just added enough milk so it was a creamier mixture than before the milk.)
14. Bake in the oven for an hour.


I thought it would be good to serve this with a chocolatey whipped cream so I whipped heavy cream, added chocolate powder and a little bit of confectioner’s sugar, topped the cake with it and chocolate chips and there we go. I would normally add vanilla to whipped cream but ran out of my supply when making the cake.


It was only after sitting down to type out this blog post after having made the dessert that I looked up the translation of “massepain” and it means marzipan, so now I really don’t know what to make of it.

Two things I decided after eating it: 1. Those extra 2 teaspoons of baking powder probably were necessary to helping the cake taste a little less dense. 2. The whipped cream would have been better with vanilla and with zest rather than a chocolate version. 3. I’m pretty sure this is actually a pound cake, LOL. Keepin’ it real, folks! Anyway, it was still tasty.


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