Woah woah look at me go! Another post in less than a month! On a ROLL.
I have wanted to make a gâteau basque for ages, but kept forgetting to actually make one when it came time to bake something. I’m so glad I fixed that…. these are delicious. Called a cake but in reality more like a cookie/tart/jammy pastry, it’s essentially two layers of pastry dough sandwiching a jam or pastry cream filling. They are from the southwestern Basque region in France and gained popularity in the 18th century.
I did modify mine somewhat, so it’s not completely traditional – mostly because I wanted to use things I had at home and avoid a trip to the market, but also because I like to keep things refined sugar free when at all possible.
So, that being said, this is not exactly a traditional gâteau basque, but it IS delicious. I filled mine with fig preserves (more fruit than anything else) instead of the more traditional black cherry jam or pastry cream. I love pastry cream but was feeling lazy so that is for next time (believe me, there will be a next time).
I also happened to have that jar of fig preserves kicking around so this seemed like a good place to use it. This also means that I made what is essentially a giant fig newton! I’m not mad about it though, I loved those growing up and this tastes like an exceptionally better version. While I’m on the metaphors here, it could also be likened to a large, fancy pop tart?
The pastry is crumbly but sturdy, as these are made to be eaten by hand. I added a little almond flour to mine, another departure from tradition, but I like the consistency. This is another one of those pastries that sounds ver ver fancy but is so easy to make, especially in a stand mixer (which I did use, and would recommend if you have one).
Extremely excellent with coffee. I also tried it with ice cream – you know, for SCIENCE – and can confirm that is also an exceptional way to eat it. Especially in lieu of pastry cream.
Let’s see, what else is new… In non baking news, I’ve been trying to make one new savory dinner thing a week, to get myself out of my usual dinner cooking rut. It’s mostly working I think, I have discovered a few new things that are very good, including adding chile crisp to my stir fry sauce and also doing a chile crisp baked tofu.
In recent plant news, Bert the Bird has been going ape and has put out several new leaves! Always an exciting event in my household.
Hopefully everyone is recovering from the time change… go and make yourself something delicious to make up for that lost hour. Happy March!
Lightly sweet, crumbly, shortbready pastry sandwiching a jammy filling. Perfect to eat out of hand with a cup of coffee. Yield: one 8″ pastry; serves several. Whole grain, refined sugar free. Lightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan/NYT Cooking, here.
What you need:
1.75 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c almond flour, packed
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 c +2 tbsp unsalted butter (1¼ sticks), at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1/4c coconut sugar
scant 1/4c cane sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup fig butter/fig preserves
1 egg, beaten with a splash of cold water, for glazing
What you do:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt. Working with a mixer (use a paddle attachment if you have one), beat together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, and beat for another 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla; the mixture should be smooth. Add the flour mixture all at once, then pulse the mixer to begin incorporating it. Mix on low until blended. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather into a ball, then divide in half.
Shape each piece into a disk — the dough will be sticky — and put each between sheets of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a round just a bit wider than 8″. Keeping the dough sandwiched between the parchment, refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or for up to 3 days).
When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven, and heat to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8-inch-by-2-inch round cake pan. Remove the dough from the fridge, and leave on the counter until pliable, about 10 minutes. Peel away the paper.
Fit one round into the pan; if it breaks (mine definitely did), just press the pieces together. This isn’t really an exercise in perfection – mine was very uneven. Either fold the extra dough over and onto the base or trim it. Spread about ¾ cup of the jam over the base, leaving a 1-inch border bare and adding more jam, if needed.
Top with the second piece of dough, lightly pressing down around the edges and, if you can, tucking the dough under a bit. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect; the dough is soft, and as Dorie says, the layers fuse in the oven like magic.
Brush the top with the egg wash, and use the tines of a fork to etch a crosshatch pattern.
Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Transfer to a rack, and let rest for 5 minutes, then carefully run a table knife around the edge of the cake. Unmold onto the rack, and then quickly and carefully turn the cake over onto another rack, crosshatch side up, so that it can cool to room temperature. Wrapped well, the cake will keep for 2 days at room temperature.