Traditional Gateau Basque Cake

Gateau Basque is a traditional cake from the Basque country. This Basque cake recipe is made with a flaky, buttery crust and is 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 vanilla 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 flavor! 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

Material & 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 flavor 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 flavor 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. You can find a delicious, step-by-step vanilla pastry cream recipe here.
  • 20 cm x 2.8/3 cm (8 inch x 1.1 inch) round cake ring. You can also use a springform cake pan of the same size.
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

To make this gateau Basque recipe you must:

  • 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
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
Pastry cream process shot
Pastry cream process shot
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".
  • You can find a detailed recipe and instructions on how to make the best vanilla pastry cream here
  • Smooth out the pastry cream using a whisk before assembling the Gateau Basque to remove any lumps and make it easier to work with.
  • To make the pastry cream cool down faster, spread it out over a baking tray lined with saran wrap. Then cover with saran wrap once again and refrigerate.
  • Make sure to butter the cake ring before assembling this cake. This will make lining the ring a lot easier as the dough will slide into it!
  • Assemble the cake directly on top of a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Because we are using a cake ring, moving it after assembly would not be advised, as it will most likely break.
  • If you are using a springform cake pan, don't make the cake as high as the pan, as this would be too much. Only make the edges 3 cm high (1.1 inch), as you would if you were using a cake ring.
  • When covering the Gateau Basque with the second layer of lemon-scented dough, press a rolling pin over it to cut the excess dough and make it stick together.
  • If using a springform cake pan, place the dough inside the pan, press it together with the bottom layer of dough using your fingers, and then use a knife to cut out the excess dough.
  • Before baking, place the assembled cake in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to one hour. This will make scoring the top of the dough easier and will prevent it from breaking.
  • Brush with egg wash before scoring the cake. The egg wash will allow the fork to run smoothly across the dough without breaking it.
  • To score this cake, use a fork and make 3 vertical lines and 3 horizontal lines (as shown in the photos). This is the traditional scoring, but you can work your magic here!

Expert notes

To be able to work with the dough for this Basque cake when assembling it 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.

Storage tips

You can keep this cake for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. If kept at room temperature it will become soggy fast.

Freezer instructions

Yes. You can keep it for up to 1 month in the freezer properly wrapped with saran wrap and placed in a freezer airtight container.

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.
  • Or you can make a chocolate gateau Basque cake by replacing the vanilla pastry cream with chocolate pastry cream.

Up to you to decide!

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


Gateau Basque Cake 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


  • Cherry Jam 50 g
  • Egg Yolks 1


  • 1. Make the Basque Cake 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. 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. Prepare the tart tin (20 cm diameter x 3 cm high): butter it thoroughly and place parchment paper over it.
  • 2. Prepare the Vanilla 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, then remove from the stove. Transfer to a hermetic container, cover with plastic wrap (it should be in contact with the pastry cream) and refrigerate.
  • 3. Fry the bugnes: Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2, one half slightly bigger than the other. Place the smaller half of the dough back in the fridge. Using the bigger half, roll the dough out in a circular shape to 5/6 mm thick. Make sure to work with an abundantly floured surface to avoid the dough sticking and breaking. Work as fast as possible. Place the dough over your tart tin. 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 and top with the pastry cream. Distribute evenly using a spoon or offset spatula. 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.
  • 4. Bake the Gateau Basque: Place the Basque bake in the fridge for 30 minutes. Brush the cake with the egg wash and using a fork make the decorations as shown in the picture above. Bake at 180 C° (360 F) until golden (about 40 minutes). 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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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!

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 ;)

Grace May 02, 2021

I have tried making GB SO many times to replicate what I've had in France and no recipe has seemed right until this one. IT IS SO GOOD. Used a little bit of roasted buckwheat flour in the crust, vanilla pastry cream, and strawberry/rhubarb and bayleaf jam. Keeping this recipe until I die. Thanks for making it available!

Belén Gowland
Belula January 18, 2022

Hi Grace,
Ohhh this is the best thing you could haver said about this Gateau Basque recipe! So happy you enjoy it and keep coming back to it!! It is a great classic, right?
I appreciate this so much! Thank you :)

JoElle December 28, 2021

Hi! I would love to make this but need to be gluten free. Do you think it would work with gf Cup4Cup flour?

Belén Gowland
Belula January 18, 2022

Hi JoElle,
GF can be tricky. In my (small experience, I have celiac sister so I sometimes experiment, though not enough because she lives across the world:) GF store bought flour absorbs a lot more liquid than regular flour would. So i'd say you would have to increase 25% the flour amount to start. Then observe the dough and see if it need a little more and adjust accordingly.
Hope this helps!
I would appreciate it if you let know how it turned out please. I am very curious!
Thank you

Miriam January 18, 2022

This Gateau Basque is the first one I have made that replicated what I have had when on holiday in France!
Thanks so much for the recipe. A keeper!

Belén Gowland
Belula January 18, 2022

Hi Miriam,
Jumping up and down over here! So glad to here this!
Gateau Basque is a great and delicious classic!

Bob March 27, 2022

This was great! I used orange zest and a tablespoon of orange flower water with a pastry cream flavored with orange flower water. A keeper.

Belén Gowland
Belula June 03, 2022

Hi Bob,
Thank you for this message and taking the time to leave your feedback here. It is much appreciated!
And I LOVE this addition of orange zest and orange flower water, I will be adding this into the recipe variations sections!
Very happy you enjoyed the recipe, it is one of my favorites I've shared on the blog so far!

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