This recipe was written and sent by Mélanie Boutet.
The Millas is a delicacy from the south-west of France. As most regional specialties, its origin is subject to debates; with every family keeping its own recipe as a precious secret. Consequently, its flavor varies from one region to another.
The recipe given here can find its origin in the southern region of Charente. Its ingredients are simple and few, that is why using very good quality products is capital. Among the ingredients, the use of Cognac is paramount as it is a central product of the Charentes region and the reason why this Millas is a “Millas Charentais”. It is commonly baked on Sundays and in large amounts by “Charentaises” grandmothers.
Note: Rich and filling, this cake is more appropriate for breakfast or tea time than dessert.
About the Millas
The distinctive taste of this cake comes from the use of corn flour, which strangely enough was not always part of the recipe. As its name suggests, Millas used to designate a porridge made out of a cereal called “millet”, which was an essential ingredient of Mediterranean cuisine in the Middle Ages.
Once corn was brought back from America by the Spaniards in the XVth century, its culture spread from Spain to the south-west of France, replacing millet in a matter of decades.
Looking back in time, we can observe that globalization has always influenced local food cultures, and connects humans through time and space. We can imagine the surprise of our ancestors eating their “Millas porridge” if we would present this contemporary version to them.
300g of corn flour (as opposed to corn starch such as “maizena”)
150g of wheat flour
1 pinch of salt
120g of sugar
125g of diced cold butter
1L of whole milk
2 teaspoons of Cognac
- Pre-heat your oven at 200°C (390°F).
- Combine the 2 flours and sugar in a bowl.
- Melt the butter in a pan, add gradually to the flour, stirring until combined.
- Add the 3 eggs and stir to a smooth paste.
- Heat the milk up in a saucepan and add it little by little to the batter.
- You can now pour the Cognac in.
- Butter a cake mold, seeped the batter evenly and bake for 40 minutes.
- When baked, open your oven and unveil the Millas.
- The Millas can be served lukewarm or at room temperature with a spoonful of marmelade or blackberry coulis.
- From the Mediterranean coasts of Languedoc to the Pyrenees mountains and the Atlantic beaches of Charente.
- This still life of an ear of corn was painted by Charles Ethan Porter, the first African American painter to exhibit at the National Academy of design in New York.
- You will definitely be able to find local corn flour whether you live in western Europe, the US, Latin America or South Asia.
- Apologies to non-french readers: imported Cognac is fairly expensive. You can of course swap it for another alcohol such as brandy but it won’t make a proper Millas Charentais. You should give it a try anyway :^)