My husband and I went out to dinner recently at a fabulous restaurant called Sitka and Spruce and we had a dessert I had never heard of before called gateau basque. I love custardy things and this had a top and bottom layer of crust/cake and a middle of a custard like substance and I fell immediately in love. When we got home, I checked for recipes and found a flood of them. So many, that not knowing where to start, I gave up the idea until I found one in my beloved Suzanne Goin cookbook. This is not a quick enterprise, so be forewarned. The dough has to chill for at least 2 hours before handling and the pastry cream for the middle has to cool and so on. Plus, I ran all over town finding the flavorings…of course, for me that just meant a trip to Whole Foods, which I usually avoid, (sorry Whole Foods lovers!), but I do think it was worth the effort. It wasn’t exactly like the one we had at Sitka and Spruce, but was deliciousness in it’s own right and really wasn’t that hard to make. I have to admit, that I did overcook it a little bit, so I’m adjusting the cooking time for you and keeping my disappointment about that to myself. We did all still love the flavors, which are quite unique, and the extra brown didn’t hurt the appearance or flavor too much, so I was able to forgive myself.
From Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques
several hours, but probably only 1 hour of active time
Goin’s recipe calls for a 9″ ring mold, which I didn’t have, so I used a 9″springform pan, which worked out, but took a little fussing at the end to fit the top crust and sides together. I’m giving you her recipe and you can decide how you want to proceed.
This dessert would be good for a special dinner or a holiday meal.
2 cups flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
8 oz (2 sticks) butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 extra-large egg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 tblsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tblsp Pernod
Basque pastry cream-recipe below
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup creme fraiche
Armagnac prunes-recipe below
-Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer running at low, add the butter. When the butter has been incorporated, add the egg, 2 egg yolks, the lemon zest and the Pernod. Mix at low speed until the dough just comes together. Divide the dough into two-thirds and one-third portions. Wrap each portion in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (While this refrigerates, make the Basque cream and Armagnac prunes)
-Lightly butter a 9″ ring mold (1 inch high) and set it on a baking sheet.
-Roll out the larger piece of dough on a lightly floured board or two pieces of parchment paper, also lightly floured. Roll into an 11-inch circle, 1/3 inch thick. The dough may be tricky to work with, but it’s ok to patch it together as needed-when it bakes, the mistakes will disappear.) Roll the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll over the ring and gently tuck the dough into the corners, letting the excess fall over the edges. Fill the shell with the cooled Basque pastry cream. Roll out the remaining piece of dough into a circle slightly larger than the pan. Place the dough over the pastry cream. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the ring to seal the bottom and top layers of dough together. (Or if using the spring-form pan, carefully pinch together the edges and cut away the excess. The unevenness did go away when baked) Chill for 30 minutes.
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
-Whisk the remaining egg yolk with a little water, and brush the gateau with this egg wash. Score the top of the cake with a paring knife in a criss cross or harlequin pattern.
-Bake about 30 minutes, until golden brown (Since I over-baked it by baking it 35 minutes, as it said in the recipe, I would recommend beginning to check it at 25 minutes just to be sure. Maybe it was my oven, but after all that work, you want it to be perfect!)
-Whip the cream and creme fraiche until it holds soft peaks.
-Serve wedges with Armagnac prunes and their syrup over each piece and a dollop of whipped cream on top.
basque pastry cream
1 1/2 cup whole milk
3 extra-large egg yolks
6 tblsp sugar
2 tblsp cornstarch, sifted
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp dark rum
2 tsp Armagnac
1 tsp orange-flower water
1 tsp pure almond extract
-In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil and then turn off the heat. Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl, then whisk in the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens and is a pale yellow color. Whisk in the hot milk a tablespoon at a time, progressing to a slow steady stream. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over medium heat until thickened, whisking the whole time. (I cooked it until it was almost the thickness of pudding.)
-Strain into a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Poke a few holes in the plastic to let the heat escape. Cool it in the refrigerator. When the pastry cream has cooled, stir in the rum, Armagnac, orange-flower water and almond extract.
1/2 lb pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups hot black tea
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Armagnac
-Place the prunes in a bowl and pour the hot tea over them. Cover and let steep 1 hour. Strain the prunes, reserving 1/4 cup of the tea. Place the tea and the sugar in a small sauce pot, bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the syrup over the prunes. Add the Armagnac to the pot, bring it just to a boil and then pour it over the prunes. Cover and steep at least 30 minutes. Cool the prunes until needed and refrigerate to store.