The concept is simple, the ingredients are few, and the taste is amazing! More than the taste, however, is the texture. The crispy bottom and sides surround a tender, buttery middle. This potato cake recipe is a standard in French cuisine and is formally called Pomme Anna.
When making this, it’s important to use the right type of pan. In France, there is an actual Pomme Anna pan – heavy gauge metal with a lid and handles. The main idea is to make it in a heavy pan which can be used on the stove top and transferred to the oven. Julia Child suggests a 10-inch cast iron skillet. (Available many times at T.J.Maxx; there are two locations in Grand Rapids and others within driving distance.)
Once you slice your potatoes, lay them between two clean towels and push down to squeeze all of the water out of them. This is an important step to ensure that the potatoes absorb the butter well.
Julia Child’s Potato Cake Recipe
- 4 pounds boiling potatoes, thinly sliced (food processor works well)
- 2 sticks butter, melted
- Salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Clarify the butter (melt and let the white pieces move to the top). Using a basting bulb, squeeze the end of it in the clear butter — use only this — otherwise the potatoes will stick.
In a 10-inch cast iron skillet or other very heavy pan, put in 1/4 cup clarified butter, arrange potato slices around the pan, covering the bottom in a design. Salt and pepper the potato layers, pouring on a bit more butter, then salt/pepper and arrange two other layers. Continue layering the potatoes, butter, salt/pepper, until the potatoes are all used. Take a smaller pan with a flat bottom and press down to compress the potatoes into a cake.
Put in the oven for 20 minutes. (As a safety precaution, put something under the potatoes to catch any butter that may spatter.) Remove from the oven and press down on the potatoes again. Return to the oven for 25 more minutes. Remove to compess the layers again. You can return for 5 more minutes or, if you need to bake something in the oven, finish the potatoes over the burner on low, until the main dish is cooked. Invert onto plate and cut into wedges.
(From Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two, Julia Child)
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