Belula

Traditional Gateau Basque Cake

Gateau Basque is a traditional cake from the Basque country. This Basque cake recipe is made by a flaky, buttery crust filled with pastry cream and cherry marmalade.

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

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. A few years ago, I travelled to the Basque Country, and I had the pleasure of trying the real Gateau Basque; And tried it every single day I was there! This Basque cake recipe has a flaky dough filled with pastry cream and cherry jam with a mild lemony flavour! I prefer the French cherry Basque cake version! I hope you love it as much as I do!

90° of the sliced Basque Cake
Overhead shot of the whole gateau Basque

Utensils and Ingredient notes

  • 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.
  • 20 cm x 2.8/3 cm round cake ring.
Closeup shot of one slice of Gateau Basque
Overhead shot of sliced Gateau Basque
Close up overhead shot of the inside of the Basque Cake

How to make this recipe

  • Make the dough, and chill for 2 hours
  • Make the pastry cream and refrigerate until cold
  • Assemble the Basque cake
  • Bake the cake until golden

Step-step-instructions: the dough

  • 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.
  • Add the powdered sugar and the egg and the egg yolk and mix using your finger or a spatula.
  • 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.
  • 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

Step-by-step instructions: the pastry cream

  • Whisk the egg yolks and half the sugar. Add the cornstarch and mix until there are no lumps. Set aside.
  • Bring the milk, half the sugar and vanilla bean seeds to a boil.
  • 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.
  • Transfer to a hermetic container, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Pastry cream process shot
Pastry cream process shot

Step-by-step instructions: the assembly of the cherry gateau Basque

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

Recipe notes

  • Use cold butter
  • Do not overwork the dough. When bringing the dough together, no kneading necessary. What you need to do is "fraisage" 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 above or on this video how to do a proper "fraisage".

Expert notes

To be able to work with the dough for this Basque cake when assembling the 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 feel 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.
  • You can also roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper.

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.

Storage tips

You can keep this cake 3 days in the refrigerator.

Freezer instructions

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.

The ingredients used in all recipes on this site are measured using the metric system. I use a scale to be precise with my measurements and ensure good results. If you would also like to use a scale, here are some: USA, Canada, UK, Australia, France.
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.
If you made this recipe I would really appreciate it if you leave a rating or comment below! Also, if you share on social media please use #cookwithbelula, I would love to see what you create!
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4 Comments
Ari January 09, 2021

This was super easy to follow and the cake is great!

Belén Gowland
Belula January 11, 2021

Hi Ari!
So happy to hear you liked the cake, and especially that you found the instructions easy to follow!
You made my day :)

Kim February 09, 2021

Hi! Really fond of the recipe! Just wondering can i replace the pastry cream with frangipan? Cuz it contains too much butter i doubted it could make the pastry soggy.

Belén Gowland
Belula March 16, 2021

Hi Kim! I think you might be right about frangipane. This dough is already extremely buttery. I'm not confident the frangipane would hold its own. However I have never tried this alternative before. So can't be sure 100%. Have you given it a try?
Kind regards!
Belén

Kim March 19, 2021

Hi belén!thanx for the reply!actually I mixed pastry cream and frangipane(1/1 ratio) and it turned perrrfect!my parents loved it.highly suggested for anyone obsessed with almonds like us!♡

Belén Gowland
Belula March 23, 2021

Hi Kim! Oh, so happy to hear it turned out nicely! Will update the post to include this filling as an alternative! Thank you for sharing and so happy your parents loved the Gateau Basque. :)

Kim March 23, 2021

Awsome!So flattered to hear that ;)

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