The vaution or votion in Wallonia is a sugar tart from Verviers. It is basically a huge cinnamon bun, but instead of rolling the layered pastry, the pastry is stacked. Linguists think the name comes from vote, which means ‘pancake’ in Walloon; five discs of enriched yeast dough are stacked, with sugar, cinnamon and butter between them to create a syrup that seeps through the dough. Vaution is related to the tart au sucre, but its architecture is completely different. It is preferably eaten lukewarm and is popular during the Liège fair.
Makes 1 large tart
WHAT YOU NEED
For the pastry
1kg strong (bread) flour
50g light brown sugar
300g unsalted butter, softened
20g instant dry yeast
400ml full-fat milk
1 beaten egg, for egg wash
2 tbsp icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting
For the filling
300g caster (superfine) sugar
100g dark brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
150g unsalted butter, chilled
Use a 30–32cm enamel pie plate or tin, greased and floured.
WHAT TO DO
For the pastry, combine the flour, sugar, butter, and yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the eggs and half of the milk and start kneading. When the liquid is completely absorbed, pour in the rest of the milk and knead for 5mins. Let the dough rest for 5mins, then add the salt and knead for 10mins until it has come together in a smooth and elastic dough that is neither too dry nor terribly wet.
Divide the dough into two pieces of 415g each and three pieces of 350g each and shape into neat balls. Cover the dough with a tea towel (dish towel) and set aside for 1hr until it has almost doubled in size.
Meanwhile, for the filling, mix the sugars and cinnamon together and chop the butter into 20 cubes.
When ready to assemble the tart, roll out one of the larger dough balls until it is as wide as the prepared pie tin and around 3mm thick, and lay it in the tin. Roll out one of the smaller balls and, if you have space to put them, roll out the other balls too.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Do not use the fan setting.
Scatter 3 tbsp of the sugar mixture over the base dough, leaving 2cm clear around the edge of the dough, then dot with five cubes of butter. Brush the edge with the egg wash, then lay a smaller disc of dough on top of the filling. Repeat with the sugar mixture (this time all the way to the edge) and another five cubes of butter, offsetting the butter from the positions in the layer below. Lay another of the smaller discs of dough over the top and do the same. Repeat with the third small disc of dough and the remaining sugar mixture and butter. Lay the other large disc over the stack and secure it to the base layer around the edge, crimping the pastry together as neatly as you can using either a folding technique or a fork or pastry stamp. Brush all over the top with the egg wash, then sift the icing sugar over the top.
Bake on the second shelf (just under the middle) of the oven for 30–35mins until golden brown with white patches from the icing sugar.
This tart is best served when still a little warm, but is also good cold. Slice it in large wedges. The next day you can reheat pieces in a hot oven, or on a rack on top of a toaster.