Dear Friend of Flanders,

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Mattentaart ©Stefan Jacobs

When visiting the Flemish city of Geraardsbergen (Grammont), true foodies simply cannot leave without having tasted the mattentaart, devotedly prepared by the local bakers.

Mattentaart ©Stefan Jacobs

It’s a unique regional cake that enjoys great fame, even beyond the national borders. The mattentaart was granted Protected Geographical Indication status by the European Union in 2006, indicating they can only be made in Geraardsbergen or in the nearby municipality of Lierde.

Although little is know about its origins, those involved in Grammont’s mattentaart “business” contend that it goes all the way back to the Middle Ages. The words “matten” or “maton”, meaning coagulated or curdled milk, are frequently found in old German, French and Flemish dialects. The quality of the “matten” is determined by the quality of the milk and indirectly by the dairy cattle’s fodder. Local bakers know for certain that the soil cultivation is of major importance in the mattentaart production.

Mattentaart Recipe

Ingredients

  • 300 g/10,5 oz puff pastry
  • 50 g/1,8 oz sugar
  • 1.5 l/1,6 quarts whole milk
  • 0.5 l/2 cups fresh thick buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 45 g/1,7 oz ground almonds
  • 1/8 wine glass of rum or almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • butter

Cooking directions

  • Bring the milk to the boil
  • Add the buttermilk
  • 'Matten' or curds will start to form in the whole milk immediately
  • If the milk does not curdle, add a tablespoon of vinegar
  • Stir for a short while, but don't allow to boil
  • Remove the saucepan from the hob
  • Pour everything through a clean cloth and allow to leak overnight. The curds should be as dry as possible
  • The next day, mix the curds with a hand blender before baking
  • Roll out the puff pastry and use it to line the greased pie moulds (diameter of 15 cm/6 inches and height of 2 cm/0,8 inches)
  • Beat the egg whites
  • Stir the egg yolks, sugar, almonds and rum into the curds
  • Beat the mixture well. Then stir in the stiff egg whites
  • Fill the pies with the mixture
  • Cover with a thin layer of dough
  • Make a small incision in the middle of the top layer
  • Bake at 225°C/437° F for half an hour
  • Remove the mattentaart pies from their moulds and allow to cool.
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