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BASQUE CAKE WITH PASTRY CREAM FILLING

Pastry Cream flavored with 2 tablespoons Basque aromatic mixture, chilled
6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour, (about 1 1/4 cups)
3 ounces cake flour, (2/3 cup)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
9 tablespoons sugar, preferably superfine
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons Basque Aromatic Mixture
1 teaspoon milk

1 cup milk
3 inch vanilla bean, split, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
3 1/2 Tbsp superfine sugar
3 egg yolks
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flavoring (use Basque Aromatic Mixture for Gateau Basque)

2 Tbsps orange flower water
2 Tbsps anisette
2 Tbsps dark rum
1/4 cup Armagnac
1 Tsp almond extract
1 strip untreated lemon or orange peel

One day in advance, prepare Pastry Cream:

Bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla bean, if using, in a
small saucepan. Cover and set aside. Place salt, sugar, and egg
yolks in a mixing bowl; beat until pale yellow and thick. Beat in
the cornstarch and vanilla extract, if using; beat until smooth.
If using vanilla bean, remove it from the hot milk. Gradually beat
the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Pour into clean saucepan,
set over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until boiling.
Continue to stir vigorously until the custard is no longer lumpy,
about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and continue to beat vigorously
30 seconds longer. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Stir in
cream, butter, and flavoring. Stir from time to time as the Pastry
Cream cools. Place a sheet of buttered waxed paper directly on
the cream to inhibit the formation of a skin. Chill.

Basque Aromatic Mixture: Mix together orange water, anisette, rum,
armagnac, almond extract and lemon peel in a clean jar, cover
tightly, and keep in a cool cupboard or refrigerator.

Sift flours, salt, and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside. With
a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, cream the butter until fluffy.
Gradually add the sugar by spoonfuls. Cream together until very
light and fluffy. The mixture must not feel granular. Set aside
2 tablespoons beaten egg for glazing. Add the remaining eggs to
butter and sugar by spoonfuls, beating well between additions to
blend completely. If using an electric mixer, add eggs at low speed.
Add the Basque Aromatic Mixture and one quarter of the sifted flour.
Fold in remaining flour and gather into a ball. Do not overmix or
knead the dough. It will be very sticky and soft. Dust lightly with
flour and invert into a wide soup bowl. Wrap in waxed paper. Let
rest overnight in the refrigerator.


Early the following day, divide the dough into 2 unequal parts,
one slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger portion
into a 10 inch round between the sheets of lightly floured waxed
paper. (Loosen paper from time to time to facilitate rolling.)
Remove top sheet of paper and invert dough into 8 inch cake pan;
line bottom and sides. Peel off paper; if pastry tears, use edges
to repair or pinch torn pastry together. Trim edges and fill with
pastry cream. roll out smaller ball into an 8 inch round. Remove
paper and invert onto filling; crimp edges. Chill completely.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a baking sheet or tile on lowest oven
rack.

Brush pastry with reserved beaten egg diluted with 1 teaspoon milk.
Make crisscrossing marks on top with the back of the tines of a
fork. Make 3 slashes for escaping steam. Place on heated baking
sheet or hot tile. Immediately lower oven temperature to 375 F.
and bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake is a light golden brown.

Remove to a rack and let cool 10 minutes. Invert out of pan and
invert again onto a rack to cool completely The cake will harden
as it cools. Serve at room temperature, cut in wedges.


VARIATIONS:

Substitute 12 ounces (1 jar) black (bing) cherry preserves (preferably
Hero brand) for Pastry Cream.


Mixed Pastry Cream and preserves: Place 1 1/3 cups Basque Aromatic
Mixture-flavored Pastry Cream on pastry; cover with layer of black
cherry preserves (about 1/2 cup, gently heated in order to spread
easily over the Pastry Cream).

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