Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gateau Basque

Basque Cake - made (again) September 22, 2017 from the Culinary Institute of America
I've blogged about Basque Cake before but that was over 8 years ago and it's worth posting again as it's one of my favorites. But for something that's one of my favorite cakes, I don't make it very often. I've explained before because if I did, I would eat it. Well, yeah. Duh.
If you've made this Basque Cake before, you would understand both ends of the conundrum. It's delicious, especially if you're into buttery vanilla cakes with pastry cream inside. It's also a calorie bomb if you actually read the ingredients that got into it. A whole pound of butter for one large cake. Not counting the pastry cream and its plethora of artery-hardening ingredients. Meh, you only live once, right?

And if you don't want to weigh more than you should, you probably wouldn't make or eat this cake very often either. But whenever you do, enjoy it because it really is that good.
Basque Cake isn't hard to make. It just takes a little patience as it does involve a few extra steps. Such as making the pastry cream. I only make a half recipe from the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) recipe. It's so good. I don't even like many custard-type desserts but I could eat this pastry cream all day long. Yeah, I'd feel sick by the end of the day but what a way to go.
After you make the pastry cream and let it cool, you make the cake batter, pipe a bottom layer. cover with pastry cream and them pour the remaining batter over it. "Pour" is an overstatement though because this cake batter is really stiff. So it's more like spoon and spread evenly than pour.
Once you have it in the oven, your kitchen will be filled with fabulous scents of baking butter and vanilla. Resist the temptation to open the oven door as that lowers the temperature every time you open it. Also resist the temptation to take these out too soon. The original recipe if making the full-size cake is to bake it for at least an hour. If the top is getting too brown, cover lightly with foil but keep baking.
It's hard to tell when this cake is done because the toothpick test doesn't work well. The pastry cream in the center will make you think it's still raw but hey, it's cream. The cake part may also come out "clean" but the high butter ratio of this cake won't show any crumbs on the toothpick and instead it may just look shiny. Time it. When all is said and done, this is well worth any trouble. I like to make them into small cakes to make them easier to package up and give away. Because I can't have the whole cake/full recipe in my house. I'd eat it all.
1 pound butter, softened

1 pound sugar2 teaspoons vanilla3 eggs, at room temperature13 ounces cake flour2 teaspoons baking powder½ teaspoon salt1 tablespoon dark rum8 ounces pastry creamConfectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional

1/2 recipe of pastry cream


  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F – 350˚F. (lower temp if baking in a glass pan)
  2. Grease and flour 1 10-inch cake pan or springform pan. Put parchment paper on bottom.
  3. Cream butter with sugar and vanilla. Do not overwhip; use paddle attachment. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt, and gradually fold into butter mixture with wooden spoon.
  5. Spoon into large pastry bag fitting with a plain tip (#9). Pipe approximately half of the mixture in a spiral onto bottom of prepared pan. Pipe extra ring around inside edge of pan to prevent filling from sticking to sides of pan.
  6. Stir rum into pastry cream. Spread evenly over mixture inside of outer ring, using small spatula or palette knife. Alternatively, spread mixture in pan instead of piping it.
  7. Pipe remaining mixture in spiral over filling.
  8. Bake in preheated oven 45 to 60 minutes or until center of cake springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.
  9. Dust top with sifted confectioners’ sugar just before serving (optional). 

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