Gâteau Basque is perhaps one of the most celebrated desserts in the French Basque region. Originated in Labourd, there is a dedicated Museum to this exquisite and traditional cake as well as yearly festival where thousands of visitors gather to savour and learn how to make the Etxeko Biskotxa (in Euskera) or Pastel Vasco – Euskal Pastela.
History about this wonderful cake can be found here. At the initiative of twenty bakers to promote the quality of the Gâteau Basque, EGUZKIA ( “Sun” in Euskera, which is inspired by the shape and golden appearance of the Gâteau) was created.
This association has developed specific guidelines on the use of natural ingredients and the traditional recipe ( flour, butter, sugar, fresh eggs, etc.) that each baker or member agrees to abide by. Given all of these antecedents and history, at home we so much appreciate what this wonderful Gâteau signifies, culturally and traditionally. Many recipes and various versions of the Gâteau or Pastel, exist.
Nonetheless, this recipe is the Gâteau I remember time and again eating while visiting with my parents in Bayonne and enjoying eating at a family little ‘fonda’ where we ate and sat for long hours during our trips to Biarritz. In honor to the Basque cross – lauburu – I have included a few sprigs of freshly picked deep green clover reminiscing this very ancient coat of arms. As the Basque say – On egin! – Enjoy!
There are two main fillings, with varying opinions as to what is preferred or goes best – Crème pâtissière or dark Cherry jam from the Cerise d’Itxassou, the French town of the same name. Gâteau Basque has a crunchy tart-like exterior and a soft filling. Both are exquisite.
- 300 gr flour
- 180 gr sugar
- 200 gr butter
- 11 grm baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- For the Crème pâtissière
- 4 egg
- 2 cup of whole milk
- Vanilla bean
- 55 grm Maizena
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a standing mixer beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks along with the whole egg. Beat until they are incorporated. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Scrape the pastry dough out onto a work surface and form 2 disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over moderate heat with the vanilla bean. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs, cornstarch with the sugar. Whisk the milk into the cornstarch mixture, then pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is very thick. Set the pastry cream aside. Let the pastry cream cool to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the first disk. Meanwhile, roll the second disk.Transfer it to a 9-inch tart pan. Lightly press the dough onto the bottom and up the side of the pan. Trim off the excess and refrigerate the tart shell until firm. Spread the pastry cream in the tart shell in an even layer.Cover the tart with the first round of dough and press gently to seal the edges. Trim off any excess. Brush the tart with the egg wash. Using a fork, lightly score the top of the tart in a desired pattern. Bake the tart for about 40 minutes longer, until golden brown on top. On egin!