This buttery French Gâteau Basque hails from the Basque region of France and is filled with either pastry cream or preserved cherries.
Four years ago this fall, I reconnected with some sorority sisters for a getaway weekend in Chicago. Our time together was both exhilarating and exhausting as we stayed up till 3 AM looking at old photos, laughing and gabbing. It was as if time had not passed.
One of the highlights was going to The Bristol, owned by the brother-in-law of my friend, Julie. We dined at a community table and got the red carpet treatment as we sampled dish after exquisite dish.
The recipe I wanted to recreate the most was their Basque cake, or Gâteau Basque, a cream filled pastry type cake. Each bite of the chef’s buttery creation melted in my mouth, and I combed the web to find the best recipe. It was no surprise I used Dorie Greenspan’s recipe as my inspiration.
Tips for Making a Gâteau Basque
- A Gâteau Basque is easily identified by the pattern on the top crust. Marked with crosshatching means it’s filled with pastry cream; a Basque cross signals black cherry jam filling. Those of you who might remember some of the hubby’s idiosyncrasies will recall the only cherries he will touch are in his KoolAid. You can probably guess what I used with both attempts.
- The Bristol’s version was topped with diced caramelized apples, but I chose to garnish my summer gâteau with berries. No surprise there either, right Cher? And like my first go ’round, this one was Bill approved. “Really good” was his response. I’d say he’s about 50/50 with Dorie’s recipes so far. I should have kept a better tally!
- This recipe and Dorie’s insights were published on the NPR site; Dorie’s visit to the Gâteau Basque Museum posted on her website; and the recipe alone shared on LAWeekly. Since this recipe has been circulating on the Internet, it is one I will publish in its entirety here.
A French butter cake filled with pastry cream.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Dessert, Cake
- Method: Mixing, Baking
- Cuisine: French
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 to 1 cup thick cherry jam or an equal amount of vanilla pastry cream (use your favorite recipe)
- 1 egg beaten with a splash of water, for the glaze
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder and set aside.
- Using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until smooth. Add the egg and beat another 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The mixture may appear curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two or three additions, mixing just till they’re incorporated into the dough.
- Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface and put half of the very soft and sticky dough in the center of the sheet. Cover with another piece of plastic, then roll the dough into a circle slightly larger than 8 inches in diameter. As you’re rolling, turn the dough over and lift the plastic frequently, so that you don’t roll it into the dough and form creases. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Put the dough on a cutting board or baking sheet and refrigerate it for about 3 hours or for up to 3 days.
- When you’re ready to assemble and bake the gateau, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º. Generously butter a 2-inch high 8-inch round cake pan or springform pan.
- Remove the layers from the refrigerator and let them rest on the counter for a couple of minutes before peeling away the plastic or paper. Fit one layer into the pan, pressing together any cracks or breaks with your fingers. Trim off any excess dough. Spoon some of the jam (3/4+cup) or pastry cream (3/4 cup) onto the dough, starting in the center of the cake and leaving one inch of dough bare around the outer edge.
- Moisten the bare ring of dough with a little water and then top with the second piece of dough, pressing down around the edges to seal it.
- Brush the top of the dough with the egg glaze and use the tips of a fork to create a cross-hatch pattern across the top.
- Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Carefully flip cake over onto a cooling rack and then quickly invert it onto another rack so that it can cool fully right side up. If you’re using a springform pan, remove the sides and carefully move to a cooking rack using a large spatula.
The pastry filled version is best served on the day it is made.
Recipe from: Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
If you’re curious what my early blog posts looked like (NOT good!), you can check out my first Gateau Basque here.
A couple photos from my Chicago trip in 2010:
Dining at The Bristol, Chicago
Alpha Phi reunion at The Drake, Chicago
I’m offering a series of Skinny Tips. How I keep slim is one of my most frequent inquiries. I’ll feature tips on some of my upcoming blog posts.
Tip #32: Monitor your weight via your scale or the fit of your clothes. I rarely weigh myself, but if my jeans feel extra snug, I cut back on my after dinner cookies. Waiting too long to make diet or exercise adjustments means more weight to take off. It’s much easier to lose a couple pounds versus 10 or 20.