No, that’s not a kebab you see spinning in the window of this very special French house of cuisine. It’s a cake.
The Gâteau à la Broche, or cake on a spit, is a charming local French delicacy found exclusively in the small town of Arreau in the French Pyrenees. The recipe was brought over to France by Napoleon’s soldiers as they fled Russia in defeat in 1812, and was borrowed from what they had learned from Eastern European bakers. Baking a Gâteau à la Broche is a long and delicate process, resulting in a spiky, perfectly crisped concoction that resembles a Christmas tree when removed from its pike.
The recipe has been guarded for centuries by the Brotherhood of the Gâteau à la Broche, a group of French bakers dedicated to preserving the culinary history of Arreau. Led by Joseph Loste, these bakers will continue to keep their spit turning, so that in another two hundred years, residents of the Pyrenees will still be able to order their traditional treat for holidays, birthdays, and other festivities.