Gâteau Basque is a true pleasure from the Pays Basque that's become hugely popular outside is borders. This striated golden cake, with it pleasantly softy crust, is unequally regal, whether stuffed with almond or rum flavored pastry cream or black cherry spread or both. The cherries used are from Itxassou; a village in the French Basque Country. These incredible black cherries “incroyable cerises noires'' are harvested near by. They are so rare that today just 3 tons are harvested each year. In contrast, Washington State produced 243,800 tons of cherries in 2018.
Make a day a head. For a 9-inch/23 cm diameter/1-inch/2.5 cm tall fluted tart pan. Cake pan works too. If using a regular tart ring, the dough should be rolled out slightly thinner, and the amount of the almond pastry cream shall be reduced by 30%, otherwise the filling may overflow during cooking. The Itxassou cherry spread can be ordered online or other brands can be purchased in many grocery stores. If you plan to make this gateau basque stuffed with cherry spread only, use 7 ounces/300g.
*Black cherry fruit spread from local producer can be used instead. Pit cherrie and halve them all making sure there is no pits left behind. In a small saucepan, heat up pitted cherries with sugar (170g). Meanwhile, mix pectin with sugar (10g) and add it to the hot cherries and stir up until it boils. Remove from the heat and roughly mix using an immersion blender to break down cherries. Bring back to boil and cook for 4 mins on medium heat. Cool off cherry marmalade and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Cherry marmalade can last awhile in the refrigerator. This cherry spread is excellent for your morning toasted baguette and Ossau-Iraty cheese sandwich...
Place a large baking tray in the freezer. Cut cold butter into cubes. Follow the same mixing protocol if making dough by hand or using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. First, sand together cubed and chilled butter along with flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Add egg yolks and mix until combined and smooth – do not over mix. Wrap pastry in plastic film and refrigerate for a couple or hours or best overnight. Or, take out 60% of the freshly made basque dough and sandwich it between a baking mat and parchment paper. For the bottom cake, roll out into a 11-inch/28 cm Ø X 0.20-inch/5 mm thick disk and freeze.
Grease tart pan with soften butter and cooking spray or do butter and flour. Leave frozen pastry disk out for a few minutes. As soon as it becomes pliable, pick up the pastry and drape over the tart pan. Gently mold the pastry into the pan and press around the edges of the tart base. Make sure the pastry is flushed against the case all the way around. Run a knife around the edge of the tart pan to cut away any excess pastry. Place tart shell in the freezer until ready to use. Gather dough scraps together and keep refrigerated.
Heat up milk with vanilla, and one third of the sugar. Meanwhile, mix egg yolks with sugar and starch. As soon as milk is boiling, temper yolk mixture with one third of the hot milk. Pour tempered egg mixture into remaining hot milk; mixing constantly. Set burner to medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes whisking swiftly. Remove pan from the heat. Transfer custard to the mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Add butter and mix on medium speed until cool. This technique allows the custard to reach the perfect consistency. Add almond extract to taste (go easy otherwise you will ruin the cake!), add almond meal; set aside or refrigerate for later use.
Grab the the frozen shell and cover with 5 ounces/140g cherry spread and the whole custard, freeze again. Meanwhile, roll out remaining pastry into a 4 mm disk and refrigerate or freeze it for 10 min or so. Then, enclose gâteau basque with pastry chasing air out as you go. Run a rolling pin around the edge of the tart pan to cut away any excess pastry and refrigerate cake. You should not have that much left. Make a couple of cookies with scraps. Or, freeze for you next gateau basque. When you plan to make it, leave scraps at room temperature to soften completely and throw it to the freshly made pastry at the end of mixing.
The cake must be chilled. Brush evenly over the top of the cake and refrigerate for 15 mins and repeat. Use a fork to score from noon to six and do likewise on the sides. Rotate cake and do cross pattern again but once to form losanges. Make a few holes on top using a toothpick. Refrigerate cake for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 6 weeks. If so, cake would have to be thawed overnight in the refrigerator before baking.
Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Bake gateau basque for about 40/45 minutes. Let cool completely before removing
Gateau Basque is best eaten at room temperature. Otherwise cut cake in four and wrap in plastic film and keep refrigerated for up to 4 days. Another way of enjoying gateau basque is to flash oven it. Pop in a 450ºF/230ºC oven for 5 min or so. Bon appétit! On Egin in Basque 🌞