Belula

Gateau Basque Cake

Belula July 31, 2020
Closeup shot of one slice of Gateau Basque

This Basque Cake is a dessert you will never forget. I first tried it at pastry school, and I was hooked. I am not a pastry cream fan, so I was incredibly surprised to find myself going for seconds the day I discovered this cake. A flaky dough filled with pastry cream and cherry jam with a mild lemony flavour. A few years later I travelled to the Basque Country and I had the pleasure of trying the real thing! Let me tell you, I had one every day I was down there! Lucky me they sell small individual Basque cakes at local boulangeries! I hope this gateau Basque recipe does it the justice it deserves!

90° of the sliced Basque Cake

What is gateau Basque (cake)?

Gâteau Basque is a traditional dessert from the French Basque Region typically filled with black cherry jam and pastry cream. Gâteau Basque filled only with pastry cream is more commonly found in the Spanish Basque Region.

This dessert consists of flaky, buttery dough filled with pastry cream and cherry jam.

Overhead shot of the whole gateau Basque

How to pronounce gateau basque?

You can check this audio to see how to properly pronounce gateau basque in French: How To Pronounce Gateau Basque.

Overhead shot of sliced Gateau Basque

What ingredients are necessary to make Gateau Basque?

  • Butter: make sure it has at least 82% fat content. If not, you will end up with a moist dough.
  • All-purpose flour
  • Lemon zest: to add the extra flavour that makes this dough even better.
  • Baking powder: it makes the cake fluffy and it is thanks to the baking powder that the lining of the tin is not necessary (as it would be for a traditional shortbread crust). The baking powder will make the dough gain volume and kind of line itself 😊.
  • Salt: always necessary in pastry. Salt brings out flavour of the other ingredients present in the recipe.
  • Eggs: use good quality organic eggs if possible.
  • Black Cherry Jam: I used this Agour Basque Dark Cherry Jam store-bought jam from the Basque Country. You can also buy this one Tiptree Black Cherry Preserve. Or you can make your own. This is a good recipe Easy Black Cherry Jam Recipe – Conserve Method {Gluten Free}.
  • Pastry Cream: it should be prepared some time in advance, so you give it the necessary time to chill in the refrigerator.
Closeup shot of one slice of Gateau Basque

A few tips for Gateau Basque Success

Making this delicious and beautiful dessert requires attention when making the dough and making a killer pastry cream.

To be able to work with the dough for this Basque cake you will need to:

  • Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours before rolling out.
  • Make sure there is always enough flour under the dough when you are rolling it out. You do not want it sticking to the countertop and breaking apart.
  • Work extremely fast. This dough has a lot of butter so it can be tricky. If at any time you fell is has become too soft and you can no longer move it around without it breaking, pop it in the fridge for 15 minutes before going on.

About the pastry cream:

  • When mixing the egg yolks and sugar: do it immediately to avoid lumps in your pastry cream. Sugar cooks the egg yolks if you do not mix them immediately. Its these grains of cooked/cured egg yolk that will make your pastry cream lumpy.
  • After it came for a boil, keep whisking energetically for about one minute to make it extra smooth.
  • Once its cooked transfer immediately to clean container and cover with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap should be touching the pastry cream surface to avoid the formation of a thick layer.
Pastry cream process shot
Pastry cream process shot

How to make gateau Basque?

First you need to make the dough:

  • Use cold butter
  • Do not overwork the dough. When bringing the dough together, no kneading necessary. What you need to do is "fraissage" a French technique used to bring together the dough to avoid overworking it and developing the gluten in the flour. Using the palm of your hand smear the dough against the countertop. Repeat the operation until the dough has come together and there are no visible pieces of butter in it. You can see on the pictures below or on this video how to do a proper "fressage" Almond Shortcrust Pastry.
  • Chill in the refrigerator covered for about 2 hours before assembling the gateau Basque.
Making gateau Basque dough
Making gateau Basque dough
Making gateau Basque dough
Making gateau Basque dough
Making gateau Basque dough
Making gateau Basque dough
Making gateau Basque dough
Making gateau Basque dough

Once it has properly chilled you can proceed to the assembly the Basque cake. Verify you have everything you need:

  • Chilled dough
  • Buttered 20 cm x 2.8/3 cm round cake ring.
  • Cherry jam
  • Chilled and smoothed out pastry cream
  • Pre-heated oven
Place the gateau Basque dough over your tart tin
Cover the bottom of the gateau Basque dough with cherry jam
Top with pastry cream
Layer of pastry cream added to Gateau Basque
Place the second half of dough over the gateau Basque
Paintbrush the Basque cake with egg wash and decorate

How to store gateau Basque?

You can keep this cake 3 days in the refrigerator.

Can you freeze gateau Basque?

Yes. You can keep it for up to 1 month in the freezer properly wrapped.

Variations for the Gateau Basque Cake

This dessert can be made filled with:

  • Pastry cream only.
  • Black cherry jam only.
  • Pastry cream and cherry Jam.

Up to you to decide! If you are feeling creative you can try this Chocolate Gâteau Basque.

Close up overhead shot of the inside of the Basque Cake
Gateau Basque Cake
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes

Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition: 508 cal
Cuisine: French

Ingredients

Dough

  • Butter 200 g
  • Powdered Sugar 200 g
  • Eggs 1
  • Egg Yolks 1
  • Flour 260 g
  • Baking Powder 7 g
  • Lemon Zest 1
  • Salt 2 g

Pastry Cream

  • Milk 250 g
  • Vanilla Beans 1
  • Sugar 60 g
  • Egg Yolks 3
  • Cornstarch 20 g

Assembly

  • Cherry Jam 50 g
  • Egg Yolks 1

Procedure

  • Dough

  • 1. Place the flour, baking powder, lemon zest, salt and the cold butter cut in cubes in a bowl. Use your fingertips to mix the ingredients until you obtain a breadcrumb/sandy consistency.
  • 2. Add the powdered sugar and the egg and the egg yolk and mix using your finger or a spatula.
  • 3. Transfer the dough to your countertop and using the palm of your hand smear the dough against your work surface. Repeat this process until the dough has come together and there are no more visible pieces of butter.
  • 4. Transfer the dough onto a floured piece of parchment paper. Slightly flour the dough and roll out to ¾ cm thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • 5. Prepare the tart tin (20 cm diameter x 3 cm high): butter it thoroughly and place on parchment paper.
  • Pastry Cream

  • 1. Whisk the egg yolks and half the sugar. Add the cornstarch and mix until there are no lumps. Set aside.
  • 2. Bring the milk, half the sugar and vanilla bean seeds to a boil.
  • 3. Pour half the boiling milk over the sugar/egg yolk/cornstarch mixture and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture back into the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat whisking constantly. Cook for 1-minute whisking energetically and then remove from the stove.
  • 4. Transfer to a hermetic container, cover with plastic wrap (it should be in contact with the pastry cream) and refrigerate.
  • Assembly

  • 1. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it in 2. One slightly bigger than the other. Get the bigger part (place the rest of the dough back in the fridge) and roll out in a circular shape to 5/6 mm thick. Make sure to work with an abundantly floured surface to avoid the dough from sticking and breaking. Work as fast as possible. Place the dough over your tart tin.
  • 2. Remove the pastry cream from the fridge and whisk until smooth. Cover the bottom of the tart tin with a thin layer of cherry jam.
  • 3. Top with the pastry cream. Distribute evenly using a spoon or offset spatula.
  • 4. Roll out the second half of the dough and place it over the tart tin already filled with pastry cream. Using a rolling pin cut the excess dough. Place the Basque bake in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • 5. Paintbrush the cake with the egg wash and using a fork make the decorations as shown on the picture above.
  • 6. Bake at 180 C° (360 F) until golden (about 40 minutes).
  • 7. Let it cool down at room temperature before slicing.
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