Sep 01 2013

#FirstOnTheFirst: Gâteau Basque

Gâteau Basque is a cross between a cake, a cookie, and a pie and supposedly originated in the Basque region of France. There are two versions, according to Joe Pastry: the Basque version with a cherry filling and the French version with pastry cream. While I adore pastry cream, since I already had an abundance of egg whites after #IceCreamWeek, I couldn’t bear the thought of accumulating more. Traditional filling it is!

Gâteau Basque

According to cookbook author Dorie Greenspan, if you travel the Basque region, there’s even a museum dedicated to this sweet. Or, at least a baking demo in a little cottage. There are some pretty strict rules involved–you should only ever use a cherry jam made in Itxassou for the filling, for example. But you know what? Some rules are made to be bent a little.

Gâteau Basque

Since I hadn’t made Gâteau Basque before, I picked a recipe that should be a winner–I selected one from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. It was easy to put together the dough (a lot like making cookies) and the hardest part was waiting at least 3 hours for the dough to chill. On my first attempt, it actually softened a little too much and my top piece broke. I just squished the pieces back together and carried on. It was fine. The resulting cake is a little dry, but it’s more because it’s like a giant filled cookie than the kinds of cakes we’re used to. The verdict? Magnifique! If I ever open a bake shop–and the idea has crossed my mind before–this will be on the menu!

Gâteau Basque

#FirstOnTheFirst: Gâteau Basque
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup organic sugar
  • 1 large cage free egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup Bonne Maman cherry preserves
  • 1 large cage free egg + water for egg wash
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars, beating for 3-4 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the egg, scraping the sides as needed, for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Mix in the vanilla bean paste.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  5. With the mixer on medium low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 4 additions.
  6. Mix until just combined.
  7. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and put each in a gallon Zip-top bag.
  8. Pat out the dough into discs, then use a rolling pin to roll out each disc to about 9 inches.
  9. Place the bags of dough on a flat surface and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  10. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take out the dough discs and let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes (don't let them get too warm, though!)
  11. Grease and flour a 9"-10" springform pan (or use baking spray). Set aside.
  12. Transfer one of the dough discs to the bottom of the pan.
  13. Spread out the preserves to about 1" from the sides of the dough.
  14. Place the second dough disc over the top and try to seal the sides (some of the preserves may squeeze out a bit).
  15. Beat the egg and some water with a fork for an egg wash. Brush over the top of the gateau.
  16. Traditionally, you can tell a jam gateau by the Basque cross on top, but I wasn't talented enough to pull that off. Run a fork across the top of the dough, then do the same in the opposite direction, making a crosshatch (this design is actually for the French pastry cream version, but it's all good).
  17. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  18. Remove to a wire rack and, after 5 minutes, remove from the springform pan to cool completely on the wire rack.

Gâteau Basque

Don’t forget to check out all the other #FirstOnTheFirst bakers’ Gâteaux Basque this month!

Please do join us next month! We’ll be making Penuche, perfect for the Fall fair season. For more details on how you can participate, please check out the First on the First tab above!

About the author

Carrie @ poet in the pantry

Carrie is a home baker and amateur photographer who dabbles in writing and poetry.


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  1. Ruthy @ Omeletta

    I agree- what a perfect bakery treat! Your description of a jam filled cookie was spot on. I loved making this cake this month, good choice. Your photos turned out beautiful as well!

  2. Kate | Food Babbles

    This looks perfect Carrie! I loved your description and you’re 100% correct, it is more like a cookie filled with jam. I really loved this project. Lovely!

    1. Carrie @ poet in the pantry

      Thank you for thinking of it! Once again, you have broadened my horizons–and my world is more delicious for it!

  3. Alyssa D. {Suitcases & Sweets}

    Not sure what I like more, your gateau basque or that gorgeous cake plate! And I totally agree about it’s cookie-like quality — it’s the cake version of shortbread! ;)

    1. Carrie @ poet in the pantry

      Thank you! My aunt just delivered 3 cake plates to me and this is one of them. Perfect background for such a delightful treat!

  4. Anna (Hidden Ponies)

    I was expecting a more “cakey” texture too, but after I got past my assumptions I really liked it! And I LOVE your bake shop idea!

    1. Carrie @ poet in the pantry

      If you’re not expecting it to be light in texture, it’s pretty darn good. But I can see how it may be jarring at first.

  5. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    I saw Kate’s first and my thought was…I would use the EXACT preserves you did. I love them and can only imagine how wonderful this basque is. Nicely done!

    1. Carrie @ poet in the pantry

      Ha! Great minds think alike!

  6. Dani Meyer

    Oh Carrie this is great! I visited Spain a few years ago and fell in love with these cakes. I haven’t been able to recreate them successfully yet so I will give this recipe a try! They often had pastry cream in them in the region I was in and that is my favorite ones.

    Thanks for this!


    1. Carrie @ poet in the pantry

      I bet they’re pretty awesome with pastry cream! I’ve also seen a combo of pastry cream and preserves. So many possibilities for variations!

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