Alive and Cooking

Gâteau Basque

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This cake originated in the 17th century as a plain cake with no garnish. Then in the 18th century, jam — blueberry, fig or cherry — was added to the recipe . Gâteau basque, as we know it today, appeared in the 19th century, when cream was included.

600 g Basque dough (see recipe below)
egg wash (1 egg and 1 egg yolk beaten with 50 ml milk)
300 g pastry cream, cooled (see recipe page 17, but use dark brown sugar instead of caster sugar)
zest of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon dark rum

Tip: Using a tart pan with a removable base will make the unmoulding process easy.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Roll out ¾ of the pastry on a floured surface into a circle about 4 mm thick and line a 25 cm diameter tart pan (refrigerate the remaining pastry to keep it cool).

Trim the edges and cover the inside and edges of the pastry with aluminium foil. Bake for 8 minutes, then take the tart out of the oven and gently remove the foil.

Brush some egg wash over the inside of the tart and bake for a further 4–5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and set aside.
Combine the pastry cream, lemon zest, sour cream and rum, and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Spread the mixture into the tart shell.
Roll out the remaining pastry into a circle about 4 mm thick and slightly bigger than the tart.

Gently place it over the top of the tart, seal the edges and brush with the rest of the egg wash.

With the back of a knife, create a criss-cross pattern over the pastry then cook for 25 minutes or until golden.

Unmould the tart after it has completely cooled down.

Serves 8.

Pâte à gâteau basque
Basque dough

This is very distinctive dough because it looks like sweet pastry but tastes more like a soft biscuit. Although it’s tricky to use the sticky dough to make a tart, I’m sure, with perseverance, you can do it (see Basque cake and truffle and pear pie).

250 g unsalted butter, softened
220 g dark brown sugar
4 pinches salt
125 g almond meal
2 eggs
½ vanilla bean
320 g plain flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking powder

In a bowl combine the butter, sugar, salt and almond meal and beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until light and creamy.

Add the eggs one by one, mixing well each time. Using a sharp knife, slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the back of the knife into the cream mixture. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well until it forms into a ball.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Makes about 1 kg dough
or enough for two 25 cm diameter cakes.

Gâteau Basque

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Recipe from Et Voila!
French Pastries from Choux Cafe by Emmanuel Mollois
(Fremantle Press)

Et Voila