Gluten-free Gâteau Basque


FOTCM Member
Gâteau Basque is a traditional dessert from the Northern (French) Basque Country, a region in the South West of France, bordering with the Atlantic, and on the border with Spain (which contains the Southern Basque Country) with the Pyrenees splitting the two. Gâteau Basque is, variously described as being like, a tart or a pie, a cake, or a cookie; you fill it like a tart, it looks like a flat cake, and tastes like a cookie. What makes the cake intriguing is that the cake gives a clue as to what is baked inside. A crosshatch pattern on top indicates a pastry cream filling (this cake), whilst a flat baked Basque cross on top indicates black cherry jam filling. The cake itself is simple and compact. The origins of Gâteau Basque lie in Cambo-les-Bains, Labourd, France, where in the 18th century it may originally have been made with bread dough, and taken out to sea by fishermen to eat whilst fishing.

This gluten-free recipe is based on a gluten recipe by Dorie Greenspan (Baking: From My Home to Yours), which she learnt about at the Museum of Gâteau Basque whilst on holiday in South West France. The Basque pastry cream is based on a recipe posted on the website, frenchtoday, by Myriam (who lives in Pays Basque, and it is a recipe that was passed on to her by her Basque grandmother).

Ingredients (cake mix): (enough for an 8in cake tin, 2in deep)
Gluten-free flour mix* 350g
Gum Arabic 1 1/2tsp
Baking powder 2tsp
Salt 1/2tsp
Butter (softened) 180g
Cane sugar 125g
Rapadura sugar 125g
Egg (slightly beaten) 98g (approx. 1 extra large plus 3 egg yolks)
Vanilla extract 1Tbsp

Ingredients (Basque pastry cream):
Cane sugar 38g (2Tbsp plus 1 1/2tsp)
Eggs 32g (2 yolks)
Gluten-free flour mix* 25g (4 3/4tsp)
Hemp milk 315g
Vanilla extract 1/2tsp

Method (cake dough):
In a bowl, and by hand, whisk the G-F flour mix, gum Arabic, baking powder, and salt until it is thoroughly combined

In a mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until smooth (approx. 3mins), scraping down the sides and beater between each of the following additions; add the slightly beaten eggs, beat for a further 2mins (approx.); add vanilla essence and mix for a little more than a minute

Reduce speed to low; add 50g flour, and fully combine; gradually add rest of the flour, occasionally stopping the machine to scrape down sides, and mix until all is incorporated (the resultant mix will be sticky)

Lay a piece of cling film/plastic wrap on a pastry board, scape the dough out of the bowl onto the top of the clingfilm; with a spatula smooth the dough into a ½in (13mm) thick rectangle and cover with cling film/plastic wrap

Chill pastry cake dough in a refrigerator for 3 hours minimum, or preferably overnight

Method (Basque pastry cream):
In a bowl (1), whisk together the sugar and eggs until fully incorporated, and then add the flour mix until smooth

Place Hemp milk in a saucepan (2), and over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer; add vanilla essence and combine

Stir half of milk mixture into the egg mixture; pour the milk/egg mixture back into the saucepan containing the rest of the milk mixture; place over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon, going well into the pan corners (to prevent it sticking and burning); once you sense that the mixture is slightly thick on the bottom of the saucepan (look at bottom of spoon), remove it from the heat

Off heat, continue stirring the pastry cream mixture for a further minute, until the mixture is thick, smooth and uniform (this allows a slow and even coagulation of the eggs and will produce a creamy texture)

Return the saucepan to the heat and bring the pastry cream mixture to the boil (to fully incorporate the G-F flour mix) whilst stirring constantly; cook for a further 1 – 2 mins to overcome any resultant starch flavour

Pour pastry cream into a cold bowl (3) (otherwise the pastry cream will continue to cook) and place into a larger bowl (4). Fill larger bowl (4) with cold water to a height where pastry cream bowl (3) just begins to float. Initially, continue stirring, then stir only occasionally and minimally as the pastry cream cools (as stirring breaks developing starch networks, resulting in a thinner cream)

Cover with clingfilm touching the surface (so that a skin/crust does not form) – if required refrigerate for up to 4 days (whisk by hand to loosen it when you take it out)

Wrap a pastry board with cling film

Remove cake dough from the fridge and cut in two (one piece slightly larger than the other) and place the other, slightly smaller half back in the refrigerator); massage, the first larger piece, into a disk (cut and overlap/patch, if required, and flatten), place on pastry board; lay another sheet of clingfilm over the top of the cake dough; then roll the dough three times in one direction, evenly, gently and briskly (ie, confidently); rotate the dough a ¼ turn, straighten out the clingfilm, and then turning the dough over and lifting the clingfilm (so that you don’t roll it into the clingfilm and form creases); and repeat; and repeat until the cake dough is a rough circle, at least 22 – 23mm (8 3/4in) in diameter; place back in the fridge for a minimum of 1hr (or up to 2 days)

Take out the other piece of dough, and repeat, rolling, and cutting to a diameter of 20.5mm (8in) – use bottom of cake tin as a template; place back in the fridge for a minimum of 1hr (or up to 2 days)

Preheat oven at 180C for 45mins, with a rack in the centre of the oven

Remove the larger of the rolled cake dough from the fridge and let it rest (approx. 5mins) on the worktop, before peeling away the top clingfilm; flip over (so that there is a piece of clingfilm on top of the cake dough); peel back the edges of the clingfilm

Generously grease a 5cm (2in) high, 20cm (8in) round cake tin (preferably with a loose bottom)

Transfer the cake dough to the cake tin, with one hand underneath whilst, with the other hand eases the cake dough so as to droop into the centre of the cake tin; working around the circumference ease the dough into place by gently lifting the clingfilm with one hand whilst tapping and pressing the dough into the bottom corner (the cake dough is slightly larger than the cake tin (so as to form a raised circumferential ring along the edge)), if it breaks, just press the pieces together (the dough running up the side of the cake tin is planned to be 12.5mm (1/2in) high), if the edge is uneven or lacking in height, or thickness, add from the scraps to get the desired height, if above, cut back to be even

Spoon some of the pastry cream onto the cake dough, starting in the centre of the cake, spreading it around, leaving 12mm (1/2in) clear around the border (add more filling if you don’t think it will squish out the sides when you press down on it when you fit the top layer of dough)

Take out the other, smaller, piece of cake dough (top), it should be quite stiff; remove the clingfilm

Brush the bottom, circumferential, ring of the cake dough with a little water; take up the top piece of cake dough with your hand underneath, and transfer it to the cake tin, insert one edge in to meet the bottom ring and gently ease in the rest (to avoid as much as is possible any of the cream escaping onto the ring), gently guiding it to the opposite side (as it the right size it should fit all the way round – adjust as needed); gently and very lightly, press the layers together

Brush the top of the cake dough with eggwash (lightly beaten egg and a dash of water); and using the back tips of the tines of a fork mark a slanted cross-hatch pattern across the top

Place the cake in the middle of the oven, and bake for 40 - 45mins (or until the top is golden brown)

Take the gâteau out of the oven and place it on a cooling rack, and cool for 15mins; with a blunt knife, run around the circumference of the gâteau (to ease the process of getting it out of the cake tin); and allow to fully cool

It is best to eat it the day it is made (it will keep overnight in a fridge; however, this may dry out the cake), otherwise it will become crumbly


*Gluten-free flour mix
Brown rice flour 440g (approx. 3C + 2 ½tbsp)
Potato starch 210g (approx. 1 3/4C)
Tapioca starch 75g (approx. 1/2C)
Arrowroot powder 35g (approx. 1/4C)
Total weight 760g

gateau basque-1000px.jpg


FOTCM Member
The pic is mouth-watering and I know that it tastes wonderful, too! I had some Gâteau Basque when I was in Biarritz (South-West France) many years ago, but it didn't leave a memorable impression on me, but yours did! [imagine a yummy yummy icon here...]
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