Updated: Thu, 24 September, 2020
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Gâteau Basque vs gâteau Breton: both are gorgeous buttery tarts, filled with jam, cream or plain. In fact they might be exactly the same cake - but don't say it out loud in Pays Basque or Brittany!
Gâteau Basque and gâteau Breton
Interesting how two quite remote French regions have very similar local specialities. Brittany and le Pays Basque each have their own version of round, buttery and melting, sweet shortcrust tarts.
What's the difference?
I might, at the risk of my friendship with both sides, say they are virtually the same confection. The difference is in the egg yolk content and in using melted or only softened butter. Inside, vanilla crème pâtissière or cherry preserve in one, nothing or prune conserve in the other.
Both boast a swirly pattern (or the Basque lauburu) on top, rendered in an extra egg yolk.
How to make gâteau Basque
The pastry is very rich and buttery but meltingly tender, like a posh relative to shortbread. It is very easy to make, especially that unlike shortcrust, it doesn’t need chilling in the fridge. All you need to do is mix it and press into the dish, smoothing out the crumbs.
Plain or filled?
It’s a bit more fiddly when you want to bake it with a filling. Divide the pastry in two, press the bottom into the dish and spread your filling. Then you need to roll out the top layer and transfer it on the rolling pin onto the cream or jam filling. My version is plain and easy and just as traditional as the filled gateaux.
gateau basqueServings: 12Time: an hour and a half
- 330g (2½ cups plus 1 tbsp.) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 166g (¾ cup) caster sugar plus 1-2 tbsp. to sprinkle on top
- zest grated from 1 large lemon
- 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks
- 166g (1 stick plus 1 tbsp.) butter, melted
- an extra egg yolk, for brushing (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Prepare a 20cm/8 in cake tin or a flan or tarte dish but don’t grease it.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, add the egg and egg yolks and stir them in with a spatula or a palette knife. Add the melted, cooled butter and mix everything with the spatula or knife, and later with your hands, into a ball of dough. It may be quite crumbly but it’s not a problem.
3. Press the dough into the tin or dish so that the surface is flat and even. Brush the top with the extra egg yolk, swirl a pattern with a fork and sprinkle with the extra caster sugar.
4. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is deep golden brown. Cool in the tin. Take care when trying to unmould it as it might crumble - I usually leave it in the dish and cut slices out of it.