I remember first trying the deceivingly simple Gateau Basque in San Sebastian. It has since become my go-to café snack on any trip north. Today David shows us how to make this delicious Basque Cake.
The Basques are masters of food.
Cooking is a big deal all over Spain, but nowhere is it quite as revered as in the Pais Vasco. Here, being able to prepare delicious food isn’t just a good skill to have, it’s required! Not only is Basque cuisine considered to be at the forefront of Spanish fine dining and creative gastronomy, but it’s also the most competitive.
Go to the Basque Country and you might be lucky enough to come across a txoko. These are secret societies devoted entirely to cooking. The members gather regularly to prepare fabulous dishes, and try to outdo each other!
So it makes sense that Basque culture would have created its own superhero cake recipe. Enter the Gateau Basque.
This classic Basque Cake is a staple all across northern Spain and southern France, the traditional lands of the Basque people. It’s served by locals to accompany coffee, tea, and as a delicious dessert. Like most Basque cooking, it’s based on simple techniques, but takes a few more steps than most classic Spanish cakes. But the extra effort goes a long way to making this cake even more scrumptious.
Layers of chewy cake pastry are filled with a creamy filling in this classic recipe. Look to the top for a hint as to the contents! A cross-hatch pattern means the filling is traditional pastry cream, while a Basque cross means a cherry compote. I go for pastry cream, and berry compote on the side!
Get my gateau basque recipe below!
Classic Gateau Basque Recipe
Gâteau Basque Recipe
- ⅔ cups unsalted butter
- ¾ cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 orange zested
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
Start with the pastry cream.
- Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan along with the orange zest.
- In a separate mixing bowl, mix together the vanilla extract, egg, extra egg yolk, flour, cornstarch, and sugar. It should form a paste.
- Add the milk mixture to the mixing bowl and stir thoroughly to combine.
- Pour back into the saucepan, place back over heat and continue to whisk. Bring back to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes or until slightly thickened, whisking the whole time.
- Strain through a sieve into a sealable container and chill in the fridge.
Prepare the cake
- Mix the flour and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.
- Add the eggs (not the extra yolk) one at a time, continuing to beat.
- Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until smooth and completely combined.
- Transfer to a piping bag.
- Grease and line an 18-cm (7 inch) cake tin. Lightly dust the base and sides of the tin with flour after lining with baking parchment.
- Take the piping bag and carefully pipe a spiral of gateau mix to completely cover the base of the tin. Pipe a single circle around the outside of the tin to a height of just over 2 centimeters (1 inch).
- Fill the center of the tin with the pastry cream, smoothing down evenly.
- Pipe the remaining cake mix over the top of the pastry cream to seal, making sure the top is smooth and even. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes, and preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Take the tin out of the fridge.
- Combine the remaining egg yolk and 1/4 cup of milk, whisking slightly to mix evenly. Brush evenly over the top of the cake and use a fork or knife to score a faint diamond pattern on top. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool. Serve by itself or with a fruit jam!
What do you think of my traditional Gateau Basque recipe? Let me know in the comments below, and tell me if you prefer it with cherry compote instead!
We loved it. Couldn’t find oranges, so I used vanilla bean instead. I will definitely try it when oranges are in season again!
Can I substitute gluten free flour for the above recipe?
Never tried it – I’m not familiar with GF flour. But give it a try and let us know!
I used Bob’s 1 to 1 GF flour. The flavor was delicious but was hard to work with – meaning batter was thick and hard to get through the pastry bag. If you are used to GF baking….this is delicious and works perfectly, however, if you are trying to sneak in a GF modification….it will not go unnoticed. GF flour tends to offer a less creamy mouth feel and is heavier than regular flour.
I rushed to read the Gateau Basque recipe. When I visited Biarritz, then San Sebastian I fell in love with the cake. Although I have several recipes, they all lack the special flavor of the local cake, simply because they do not include the spices available in the Pais Vasco!
Your recipe is simple, does have pastry cream in the center (absent on in the Pais Vasco, but a great idea!), and lacks the spices I mentioned.
I went back to the areas I enjoyed, and tried to get the spices at several markets to no avail!
I will try your recipe, however, to me, it seems to be just a cake with the pastry at the center.
By the way, I am a travel agent, I give your website to my clients who enjoy cooking (and of course travel frequently). I do, of course, recommend your walking tours!
Right now unfortunately I have had NO clients to Europe from mid-February to now. All my bookings were delayed for Fall and next year; it is a very disappointing time to be in the travel business! Unfortunately this has also affected all the Caribbean bookings (for their wonderful beach resorts, we live in a Ohio, USA; our weather has been unusually cold!).
I HOPE AND WILL WAIT FOR “BETTER TIMES”, WHICH SEEMS, EACH DAY, TO GET MORE AND MORE DISTANT.
Hi there Roseli! It is indeed a difficult time to be in travel. Thanks for recommending my site. The traditional gateau Basque has either pastry cream or cherry jam in the middle — and it is not spiced. Maybe you are thinking of another cake? Here’s an article about it! But most pastry shops I’ve found in Basque Country sell the pastry cream version! https://www.france.fr/en/biarritz-basque-country/list/gateau-basque
I agree with Lauren, there are no spices in the traditional Basque cake. I too, went to visit Biarritz, St-Jean-de-Luz, Bayonne and San Sebastian and didn’t get a hint of spice in the cake. They only came in pastry cream and cherry jam in the middle.