Gateau Basque

Looks good!

I have just received this postcard from my French teacher.

The hint is not a subtle one!

I think he wants me to make this cake for our first lesson in a couple of weeks…. he will argue that making a cake from a French recipe is good for my comprehension.

He may be right though, as I am struggling with the word ‘un bourrelet’… any ideas ?



Is he thinking of his stomach…just a little?


Gateau Basque is, as its name suggests, a speciality cake from the Basque country, in the South-West corner of France.

It originates from a family recipe dating back to the 18th century, in the spa town of Cambo-les-Bains. Its Basque name is Etxeko Bixkotxa, which means “cake from the house”. The gateau basque consists of a crispy biscuit filled with custard, almond cream or black cherry jam. Before baking, the pastry is browned with egg and decorated with a fork, preferably with a Basque cross.

Gateau Basque 1

Recipe for the Gateau Basque

Ingredients for the cream filling:

300ml whole milk

zest of 1 orange

1 vanilla pod, open lengthways with seeds scraped

1  egg plus 1 yolk

28g plain flour

60g sugar

15g cornflour

Bring the milk to a boil with the orange zest, vanilla pod and its seeds. In a bowl, mix together the egg and egg yolk, flour, sugar and cornflour to form a paste. Pour the hot milk onto the paste and whisk thoroughly. Return to the pan and carry on whisking until it returns to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes, still whisking, to cook out the flour. Pass through a fine sieve into a container and cover with cling film before chilling.

Ingredients for the pastry mixture:

240g of plain flour, plus extra for dusting

5g baking powder

160g of unsalted butter, plus extra to line the cake tin

2 eggs

160g sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C (gas mark 4)

Grease the cake tin with melted butter. Line the bottom of the tin with greaseproof paper and dust the sides with flour. Working from the outside inwards, pipe a spiral of the pastry mixture to completely cover the base, making sure there are no gaps. Make an outer wall around 2cm high by piping around the edge, then fill the centre with the cream filling, smoothing it down.

Pipe the remaining pastry mixture in a spiral over the top of the pastry cream, cover with cling film and smooth the top down. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Mix the egg yolk with milk and then brush it over the top of the gateau. With a fork, draw lines across the top in a diamond pattern. If you feel brave enough, try and draw a Basque cross on the top. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Once cooked, leave to cool before serving. A good way to serve is either on its own or, better still, serve with black cherry jam.

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