Basque in it’s glory….

There are some recipes I always say I am going to make, every time I pass it in the cookbook, yet never do. I know you do this too. I have hundreds of “must make” neglected recipes. So while flipping through American Boulangerie I ran across my giant pink sticky note starring me down. There was a beautiful custard filled cake that I have told my self a dozen times I would make. As it would happen I recently received a jar of homemade black cherry jam…and well, the recipe calls for black cherry jam. The light bulb went off above my head and I set out to make this south of France treat. My first problem was that I had no flan ring. I used a 4 ½-inch spring form pan(to make 2 of them). So my top crust was WAY more thick than it should be(not that it was a real problem, it just didn’t look like the top in the cookbook). If you are a pastry cream fan, you will enjoy this dessert, as the majority of it is pastry cream or as I like to call it “next pants size up please cream.” I was most fascinated by this dessert because the pastry cream is baked, not something that happens to pastry cream that often. Oddly enough it pretty much tastes the same as when it is unbaked. If you are anti-alcohol you can easily leave out the rum.

Gateau Basque

Pastry :

4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
1/8 tsp salt
1 extra-large egg
1 extra-large egg yolk
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder


¼ cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
4 extra-large egg yolks
1 ¾ cups whole milk
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1 TBSP light rum
½ tsp almond extract
¾ cup black cherry preserves
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

1.To make the pastry: In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and salt on low speed, until smooth. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until blended. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into tow pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
2.To make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour. Add the egg yolks and ¼ cup of the milk and whisk until smooth. In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 1 ½ cups milk with the vanilla bean and its scrapings, until steaming. While whisking, pour ½ cup of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Whisk the yolk mixture back into the hot milk and cook over medium heart, whisking, until boiling and thick, about 4 minutes. Strain the filling through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the rum and almond extract. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cool, at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.
3.Preheat the oven to 325F. Set a 9-inch diameter flan ring with 1-inch sides on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray the inside of the pan with vegetable oil spread. Working between two piece of plastic, roll out the larger disk of dough to an 11-inch round. Remove the plastic wrap and ease the dough into the flan ring, pressing it into the corners and leaving the overhang. Spread the preserves evenly over the bottom of the pastry shell. Add the pastry cream in dollops and then carefully spread it over the preserves. Working between two more pieces of plastic wrap, roll out the second disk of dough to a 10 inch round and lay it over the pastry cream. Press the edges of the top and bottom crust together and cut off the overhang using the back edge of of a knife. Using the tines of a fork, lightly score the top crust in a crosshatch pattern. Brush the top of the tart with the remaining egg wash. With the tip of a knife, poke 3 holes in the top to allow steam to escape.
4.Bake in the center of the oven for 55 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the tart cool completely. Serve at room temperature or chilled, cut into wedges.

Adapted from The American Boulangerie by Pascal Rigo and the Bakers of Bay Bread, 2003


  1. You know why I love reading you . . .
    “next pants size up please cream.”
    This looks so innocent on the outside and OMG good on the inside!

  2. I’ve never heard of baked pastry cream before, but it looks good!

  3. I love to see the beautiful layers in this. I have moved many times to the next pants size from eating the right cream. But its worth it.

  4. That looks so good! I love when you can see the layers or special ingredients when it is cut! Reminds me of a Black Walnut and Coconut pound cake I saw in More magazine! I love seeing the walnuts throughout the cake!

  5. Yum! This looks and sounds delicious. Vanilla, rum, almond, and then black cherry?!?!? Yeah, that’s gotta be good!

  6. Excellent, this is one of the best cake I have seen! Bet it tastes delicious, too!

  7. Wow. Does it taste as good as it looks?

  8. Mmmmmmmm … so glad that you finally decided to make it, Peabody. It’s brilliant!

  9. OMG~I am going to make this right now~

  10. Looks good! The layers are so beautiful!

  11. It looks very fancy – great for guests! (Or a special treat, followed by a bubble bath. Or cake IN the bath? Hmmmm)

    I had no idea there WAS a such thing as a flan ring.

  12. Beautiful! I never had anything like this and I think I may try it! It looks so good!

    I didn’t know what it was, but it looks really unique and fancy.

  13. The cake looks tasteful. But I would try the recipe with a true creme anglaise. It is a French recipe. The difference with your recipe of baked pastry cream is there is no flour. It is a little better for the pant size. Check out the explanation of wikipedia.

  14. I have to disagree with comment 13: pastry cream has a thickening agent either cornstarch or flour, and creme anglaise would not work here because it would stay in its liquid state or curddle like mad but reamin mush. There are 2 types of gateau basque: the one Pea. made with the pastry cream inside 2 layers of cake, and one in which the dough is softer and creamier without pastry cream in the middle. There are also two school of thoughts: in some parts of the Basque region the cakes are filled, in some they are left plain inside.
    Your version Peabody is dead on what I have had many times visiting my brother in the region. Gorgeous!

  15. peabody says:

    At Home: Not sure creme anglaise would work. I am quite familiar with it and it is not near thick enough to bake in the cake in my opinion.
    Helen: I think creme anglaise would be a big sloppy mess. I only use it to accompany desserts as a sauce. I have never used it as a filling. I’m happy to know that you have had something similar to this…good to know that it is somewhat authentic :) !

  16. WOW! Such a plain looking cake on the outside but the inside hides the treasure. Lovely. I wish I had a fork – that and was in your kitchen right now!

  17. This is absolutely gorgeous! I really like the fact that the plain jane appearance holds such a treasure of gorgeousness!

  18. Yum! May I have a slice, please? Every part of it looks wonderful.

  19. Holy cow, Gracie – that’s gorgeous! I LOVE the layers! And a size up would be worth it for this cake. ;)


  20. Sil (Bs As) says:

    Yes, I definitevely do the same thing with cookbooks, magazines, blogs and cooking webs…anyway, this looks GREAT and easy to make.
    And I also agree with Helen and Peabody on the cream anglaise matter…
    Good work!

  21. My mouth is watering just looking at this cake. I’ve got my order in for larger pants anyway :)
    The flavor combination sounds great. I’d keep the rum. Yum! Glad you found this one and made it.

  22. OMG!!! That looks sooooo tempting! Makes me want to jump off my chair and make it right now. alas, I have to get ready for work soon…. :-(

  23. Peabody…that is dreamy… I got images of the Basque area coastline and sunbathing, wine drinking and pastry eating…


  24. Wow. Plain and simple. The texture of the cake is amazing. Cream and preserves to boot? Goodness.

  25. Oh yum…OH YUM! Yes, next pants size up please!!!

  26. Wow, that is amazingly impressive.

  27. I love Gateau Basque… I’m British, and grew up taking holidays every summer in the south of France and eating this cake. We’d usually buy ones without the jam in, but there were always lots of variations on flavour in the bakeries. Yum! Shame I’m not going this year, because you’ve made me really want some! Your photos are so mouthwatering :)

  28. That looks sooo good! I’m going to bookmark this recipe, it’s a definite must-try!

  29. Thanks for the inspiration! I made a couple substitutions (banana cream instead of regular), and while mine completely fell apart because I was using gluten-free flour (for some friends with wheat allergies), all the pieces were delicious. Can’t wait to try again with regular flour. :)

  30. Yes, I know I already commented on this when you made it, but I’m thinking about that BBQ, and of course getting distracted by the other droolworthy things, of course. I am so remembering this cake that I just inhaled two pieces of toast with jam slathered on them…incorrigible.

  31. I’ve saved this recipe for a year in my favorites folder and finally decided to make it! It turned out beautiful…I baked the gateau 30 minutes then brushed the top with egg and scattered sliced almonds over it. It literally brought tears to my friends eyes when she saw it. The only difficulty I experienced was in working with the dough…it was a challenge but delicious!!!

  32. I tried this exact recipe, using the same flan ring pan. It did NOT rise and ended up as a flat very dense cake. It was tasty, but damn. How did yours rise? I even used new baking powder, but nada. How would the cake rise so far above the rim of the pan?

  33. OOPS. I just realized that I used almond meal for part of the flour. That explains the failure to rise. I take it back!!

  34. Just made it. it’s sooooo tasty!!!! Thx for the sharing! like like like ! ok, harry for the last piece =)

  35. I have to try this..looks so beautiful.

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