Gâteau Basque (Pastel Vasco)

In the Basque country, this cake can be found with either cherries (or cherry jam) or pastry cream, but rarely both. But what the heck - the more the merrier. Add a good splash of sherry to top it all off, if you like.

You'll need

275 gm butter, softened, plus extra for greasing 330 gm (1½ cups) raw caster sugar 3 eggs, at room temperature 335 gm (2¼ cups) plain flour, sieved, plus extra for dusting 90 gm (¾ cup) finely ground almonds 1½ tsp baking powder 1 vanilla bean, scraped seeds only ½ lemon, finely grated rind only For brushing: eggwash For dusting: pure icing sugar To serve: preserved cherries in syrup or fresh cherries poached in light syrup   Pastry cream 6 egg yolks 200 gm caster sugar 60 gm plain flour, sieved 625 ml (2½ cups) milk 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped


  • 01
  • Beat butter and raw caster sugar in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until pale and creamy (2-4 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating between each addition to incorporate. Add flour, almonds, baking powder, vanilla, lemon rind and a pinch of salt and mix until a dough forms. Divide dough in half, form each half into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest until firm (2-3 hours).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. For pastry cream, whisk yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl until pale. Add flour and whisk to combine. Meanwhile, bring milk and vanilla just to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour half the milk mixture over egg mixture and whisk to combine, then add remaining milk mixture and stir to combine. Return to pan and whisk continuously over high heat until cream is thick and bubbling (6-8 minutes), then remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl, remove vanilla bean (discard), cover directly with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature (20-30 minutes).
  • 03
  • Working quickly as pastry will soften, roll one dough disc on a lightly floured surface to a 30cm-diameter circle and line a buttered and floured 24cm-diameter cake tin, so the pastry comes up the sides. Spread pastry cream evenly over base. Roll remaining dough on a lightly floured surface to a 22cm-diameter circle and place on top of pastry cream. Pinch edges of pastry to seal and trim excess. Brush with eggwash and bake until deep golden (40-50 minutes). Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then carefully turn cake out and cool, glazed side up, on wire rack for pastry cream to firm (1-2 hours). Dust with icing sugar and serve with preserved cherries.

At A Glance

  • Serves 12 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 12 people

Drink Suggestion

Moscatel sherry.

Featured in

Oct 2009

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