Let me start off by saying that my knowledge of Gateau Basque is entirely limited by Google’s knowledge of Gateau Basque. Which is not to say it’s limited, because Google really knows a lot, but which is to say I’ve never actually tasted any besides my own, and Google does not do a good job of providing samples.
So I think this is a classic, basic Gateau Basque, and it tasted good, but I really have no idea. Seriously, I bought real vanilla extract for the very first time in my life last month, I am the furthest thing from an experienced foodie.
I also have to sincerely apologize for the apparent swastika pattern atop this cake. It was a terribly shoddy attempt at a Basque cross, or Lauburu, which is meant to look like this:
I tried to disguise it with additional icing sugar, but short of actually icing my cake and ruining any possibility of calling it a classic Gateau Basque, the odd swastika was there to stay.
Thank you for understanding.
SO. Every month for First on the First we get a kitchen challenge to tackle and reveal on the first of the month (yup, it’s September!), and while I had no idea what we were making when I saw the name, I did make some clever deductions. I knew “gateau” was French for cake, because if I learned one thing in high school French class, clearly it was the word for cake. And I knew Basque was a region in France, so I could deduce that we were making some sort of French cake, but I could never have deduced how simple it would be! To me French pastry speaks of time consuming, finicky, temperamental kitchen roulette, but this cake uses the most basic of ingredients and techniques.
I will say Google gave me much too high a level of expectation for this dessert. People described it as “the best thing I’ve ever eaten”, “a revelation”, and something they could eat “three meals a day”. Well, I read the ingredient list and prepared myself for disappointment. There isn’t much that can live up to that kind of hype.
I would describe it thusly: crisp outer pastry, with a tender, crumbly cookie texture, encasing a layer of smooth, lightly sweetened, classic pastry cream.
I know, I’m laughing at myself too. See above re: lack of official foodie status.
All this to say, it was pretty good. But my general rule here is to only share things I would absolutely make again, and I’m not yet quite sure if this qualifies. My husband and father-in-law really enjoyed it, and Gemma declared it the best cake she had ever eaten, so there’s that! But I don’t really like cream-filled anything enough to hurry to make it again, so there’s also that. The other option for this type of cake, apparently, is jam filling, but that is somewhere I just don’t go. And I DID manage to eat a solid 4 pieces of this cake, so yes, there’s that.
As cream fillings go, this one was pretty astounding. I made my first real pastry cream and guys, it is easy. It would be amazing in these eclairs, and just as easy as the pudding version I generally do! Gemma actually did most of the making of it, and she’s five years old. As she sampled it extensively she declared, “I just can’t HELP myself with this stuff, I just LOVE it!” She is already more of a foodie than I will ever be :)
So…anyone had Gateau Basque before? Is it supposed to be this flat? Does the texture seem right? I love First on the First for exactly this reason – yay for learning :) My fellow kitchen adventurers are no doubt much more eloquent about their gateaux, so don’t forget to check out all the other #FirstOnTheFirst bakers’ Gâteaux Basque this month!
- Strawberry Gateau Basque from Food Babbles
- Gateau Basque from Omeletta
- Gateau Basque from poet in the pantry
- Gateau Basque from Suitcases & Sweets
- Gateau Larsson from Go Running, Mama!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup + 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup loosely packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- About 1 cup of pastry cream (recipe follows)
- 1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for egg wash)
- HOMEMADE PASTRY CREAM:
- 1 cup 2% milk
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp butter
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add the egg and beat about 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix for one more minute. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two or three additions, mixing only until they just disappear. The dough will be quite sticky.
- Lay a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap on the counter and put half the dough in the center of the sheet. Cover it with another piece of plastic or wax paper, then roll the dough into a circle a little more than than 8 inches in diameter. Repeat with the other half of the dough, then wrap and refrigerate both pieces for at least three hours.
- When the dough goes into the fridge, prepare the pastry cream so it can also chill before use: In a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk and first ¼ cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and egg. Stir together the remaining sugar and cornstarch; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the bowl in a thin stream while mixing constantly so that you do not cook the eggs. As soon as they're combined, return the mixture to the saucepan, and slowly bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so the eggs don't curdle.
- When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and pinch of salt, mixing until completely blended. Pour into a heat-proof bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled before using.
- When ready to assemble, preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-inch round cake pan or springform pan. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it warm up for 10 minutes. Peel off the wax paper or plastic and lay one layer in the pan, pressing it into the corners. Spread the pastry cream in the middle of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Moisten the bare edge by brushing on a bit of water, then lay on the second piece of dough, pressing the edges together to seal.
- Brush on the egg wash and make a crisscrossing pattern on top with a knife if desired. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until well browned. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it. Invert the cake onto another wire rack, then back again onto its bottom (or, if you’re using a springform pan, just release the clasp and slide the cake onto a rack. Cool completely.
- Best served the same day, but leftovers keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days.
*Sources: Pastry recipe adapted from Joe Pastry, pastry cream adapted from All Recipes.