Gateau Basque Recipe

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This classic gâteau basque recipe is made with a buttery, crisp crust and silky pastry cream filling that’ll have you swooning over this traditional French cake. 

Gateau Basque Recipe image

What is Gâteau Basque?

This gâteau basque originates from the Basque region of France, as the name implies. 

The cake is typically made with a crisp, buttery crust and is filled with either crème patissiere or black cherry jam. 

 gateau basque cake image from the top

The History of Gâteau Basque

Becoming one of the most popular basque cake recipes, this treat was originally made in the 18th century by a pastry chef named Marianne Hirigoyen before it was handed down to her daughters, who sold the traditional cake in their shop la Pâtisserie Marie-Anne.

How do you pronounce Gâteau Basque?

To learn how to pronounce this cake, you can visit this web page for an audio sample.

custard cake with crisp topping image

How to Make Gâteau Basque?

To make this cake, you’ll need to create a dough rather than batter. You’ll use a large egg, large egg yolks, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, unsalted butter softened, baking powder, a little salt, and citrus zest to prepare the dough. 

When the dough is finished, it will look a lot like the dough for French butter cookies or some other kind of shortbread dough. 

You’ll also need to make the pastry cream to fill the cake by using more large eggs and large egg yolks, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, vanilla extract, a little table salt, and whole milk. 

Once assembled, this basque cake is placed into a cold oven to begin baking. Slow and steady wins the race here due to the cream filling inside, which is why you don’t preheat the oven.

French cake with custard filling image

What to serve with Gâteau basque?

This dessert is delicious on its own, but if you decide to make it with a jam filling, then I recommend serving it with some freshly whipped cream on the side.

French gateau basque with crisp pastry topping image

Tips and Make Ahead Ideas

  • The dough can be made up to a week in advance, while the pastry cream can be made a day in advance. 
  • Bake the cake in the morning to allow several hours to cool completely and serve at room temperature. 
  • You can use a springform pan as an alternative to a removable tart pan
  • To easily remove the sides of the tart pan, place the pan on a container that is a little smaller than the diameter of the pan and gently pull down the sides.
Gâteau Basque Recipe

Gâteau Basque Recipe

Yield: 8-10
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 45 minutes

A deliciously creamy custard cake on a tender crumb base and a crisp, buttery top.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 lemon or orange (zest of)
  • 1 ½ cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top
  • 1 beaten egg yolk for brushing on top

For the pastry cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Start off by making the cake. To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and beat until smooth.
  2. Add in the sugar, egg and egg yolks to the mixture, as well as the lemon or orange zest, and beat until combined well. 
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, then stir on low speed to combine. Once a sticky, cookie-like dough forms, stop the mixer. 
  4. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on your counter. Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl and onto the plastic wrap. Use your hands to mold the dough into one compact piece. Cover the dough with the plastic wrap, then use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough out a bit into a disc shape. Place in the fridge until completely chilled. 
  5. Now create the pastry cream. To a large bowl, add the egg, egg yolks, and sugar. Whisk to combine until it’s pale yellow in color. 
  6. Add in the cornstarch, flour, and salt and whisk to combine. Temporarily set aside. 
  7. Over medium heat, add the milk to a saucepan. Warm until the milk is hot, but not yet simmering. If you’re using vanilla bean powder, you can add the powder into the milk to warm up with the milk. 
  8. Slowly add about ⅛ of the hot milk into the egg batter, whisking the egg batter as you do. Continue to slowly stream in the remaining hot milk, whisking the egg batter the entire time. Once all the hot milk has been added, wash down the saucepan so that any filmy milk residue on the bottom is cleaned off. Then transfer the hot batter back into the saucepan over medium heat. 
  9. Whisk the pastry cream batter over medium heat for approximately 5 to 7 minutes, or until it has thickened into a pudding-like consistency. Be sure to whisk the entire time and do not step away from the cream or leave it unattended. 
  10. Once the pastry cream has thickened, transfer it to a large bowl. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream so that you prevent a filmy layer from forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled. 
  11. When everything has chilled, you can assemble your cake. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes to just slightly thaw out. Then take ⅔ of your cake dough and roll it out on a well-floured surface. You want to roll it out so it’s almost a foot long. The round of dough should be able to line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch tart pan
  12. Transfer this dough to a greased 9 inch tart pan (you can grease it with baking spray or softened butter). It’s okay if your dough breaks in this process or if the edges are uneven. The edges will be trimmed and the dough lining the shell can always be patched up with your fingers and extra trimmings of dough. 
  13. Once the dough has been lined inside the tart shell, just run your finger or a knife along the top edges to remove any excess hanging dough. Set the dough scraps aside. 
  14. Transfer the pastry cream to the prepared tart pan, smoothing out the cream so that it’s evenly distributed in the pan. 
  15. Take the remaining ⅓ of dough, along with the excess dough scraps from before, and roll this dough out into an approximately 9 inch round of dough. It should be able to cover the top of the pastry cream. This time, you’ll want to do your best to keep the dough from breaking in the middle. Again, uneven edges are OK as these will be trimmed off but for best appearances, you want to keep the majority of this dough round looking smooth and intact. 
  16. Use a sharp-edged spatula to help you release the dough round from your work surface before attempting to carefully lift and transfer the dough on top of the pastry cream. Once you’ve got the dough centered on top of the cream, use your fingers to press down the dough onto the edge of the tart pan while simultaneously trimming off the excess overhang. 
  17. Gently brush the dough with the beaten egg yolk, then use the back of a fork to drag across the dough, taking care not to dig too deep. You just want to score the dough, you don’t want to pierce through it. Now take your fork and drag in the opposite direction to complete the cross-hatch pattern. Sprinkle just a couple pinches of turbinado sugar all over the top.
  18. Grab the tart pan from the sides (never the bottom!) and transfer to a cold oven. Once the pan is in the oven, set your timer for 1 hour and set the oven on 325°F. After an hour, your cake should look perfectly golden with tinges of brown along the top and edges. You can check on your cake at the 45 minute mark if this is your first time making it because all ovens are a little different, but the cake should look a bit golden brown when it’s ready.
  19. Once the cake is ready, remove it from the oven and place on the counter to let it cool for at least 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, place the tart pan onto a bowl or container that’s smaller than the diameter of the tart pan, and slowly and gently nudge the sides of the tart pan down to remove the sides from the cake. Let cool completely as it rests on this container before enjoying.

Notes

To store this cake with a pastry cream filling, you’ll want to cover the cake and refrigerate after serving. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 424Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 245mgSodium: 399mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 1gSugar: 47gProtein: 9g

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