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gateau basque

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Gateau Basque

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.

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 lauburus) on top, rendered in an extra egg yolk.

The pastry is awfully rich, buttery and heavy, like a posh relative to shortcrust. Easy to put together, especially that, unlike shortcrust, it doesn’t need chilling in the fridge - mix and press into the dish, smoothing out the crumbs. It’s a bit more fiddly when you want to bake it with a filling - hence my version is plain and easy.

gateau basque

Servings: 12Time: an hour and a half

INGREDIENTS

  • 330g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 166g caster sugar plus 1-2 tbsp. to sprinkle on top
  • zest grated from 1 large lemon
  • 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks
  • 166g butter, melted
  • an extra egg yolk, for brushing (optional)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Prepare a 20cm cake tin or a flan or tarte dish but don’t grease it.

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.

Pastry for basque cakePress 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.

Baking Basque pastryBake 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.

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