Basque is a region that I really hope to visit one day. I have read and heard so much about this region that many call a culinary destination for gourmands.
It must probably seem very strange that I embarked on baking something that I have yet to taste and have very little idea on how it should turn out.
I have read about this basque tart on several blogs and articles and I just like the sound of custard and tart. One Saturday evening, my good friend sent me a image of a gateau basque made by one of her friend’s Spaniard friend and gushed about how good it tasted. That was the final push I needed to give this a go.
Ever so determined to make this a decent attempt, I did my research and consulted a few recipes (including the one made by Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella. See her post here).
On the day of baking, I was very ecstatic while my gateau basque was in the oven. I was trying to imagine how it would taste like. I’m not quite sure if my version of it is authentic but I used a recipe by Ash Mair (chef and winner of UK MasterChef Professionals) who had spent some time eating and cooking in the Basque region of Spain.
It took a while to make the custard and the crust dough. The dough was definitely fiddly and tough to handle. The results more than make up for the effort. Not too shabby for the first time.
The gateau basque was nothing quite like what I’ve eaten before. The crust is crumbly like tart on the exterior and a little cake like in the center. The baked vanilla custard was creamy, soft and ever so lovely when eaten with buttery crust that has a trace of lemon flavour. The custard in the middle was very soft and creamy (it wasn’t runny but it is slightly slouchy when you cut into it) when I first sliced into eat after baking. I’m not quite sure if it is suppose to be this way but it firmed up after a short time in the refrigerator.
I will definitely be making this one again because I love it so much.
This would have to do before I get the chance to fly myself to Bilbao, San Sebastien and Pays Basque in the south west of France.
Recipe: Gâteau Basque (Basque tart)
Adapted from My Basque Cuisine: A love affair with Spanish Cooking by Ash Mair
Makes two medium pie tins (6″ diameter) or you can also use fluted tart tins
Gâteau Basque or the Basque tart is a traditional pastry from the Basque region made with a cake like crumbly crust filled with a smooth, creamy vanilla creme patisserie (custard). In some versions, whole brandied cherries are added into the custard filling before baking. I like how this version is crumbly on the outside (almost like a tart) yet it yields to a softer cake-like crumb and then a lovely creamy custard interior. I can’t say how much I love this one.
For the pastry/crust:
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g granulated sugar
100g egg (about 2 small eggs), room temperature
finely grated zest from 1 lemon
240g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk + a pinch of salt + splash of milk, for glazing
*Update 7 Oct 2013: I’m rounding up the amt of eggs to 100g. Trying to use round up figures as much as I can now.
For the custard filling:
90g egg yolks
70g granulated sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
500ml full cream milk
1/2 vanilla bean, scrapped in seeds
1. Start with the custard filling: In a bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until well incorporated. Add in the flour and cornflour and whisk it through thoroughly. It should be without lumps.
2. Pour the milk and vanilla bean in a pot and put it on a medium heat. Stir every once in a while. When the milk comes up to a boil, pour the milk over the egg yolk mixture and whisk continuously. Pour back ino the pot, and place over medium-low heat and bring it back to a simmer while whisking. Simmer for about 3 minutes (until it has thickened) and remove from heat.
3. Pour the custard onto cling wrap tray and cling wrap the custard to stop a skin from forming. Place the custard in the fridge to cool while you prepare the crust.
4. For the pastry/crust: cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add in egg (one at the time) and lemon zest and mix until well incorporated. Sieve the dry ingredients in fold it through the we mix. This will form a very soft and sticky dough. Form a disc and wrap in cling wrap. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.
5. Prepare the baking tins: grease and line the bottom with baking parchment. Divide the dough in two portions (keep one portion in the fridge while you work with the other).
6. Keep one third of the dough for the lid. Flour and roll dough out quickly but gently (between two baking parchments). Transfer and line the pie tin evenly. The dough is very fragile and hard to work with. Alternatively,Ash recommends squashing the dough into the tin and use your fingers to push the dough to the sides and edges evenly.
7. Remove the custard from the fridge and whisk it to smoothen it out before filling it into the pastry case, smooth it out with palette knife/spoon. Use the remaining of the dough, roll it out/flatten and place it on the top. Seal the edges, and smooth out with a wet spoon so the top is flush with the top of the tin. Repeat with the other tin.
8. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius (or 400 degrees F). Brush the tops with the egg wash.
9. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown on top and brown on the edges. Let it cool slightly before turning them out from the tins. Leave them to cool completely before serving.
*If you choose to serve your gateau basque at this stage, the custard filling will be soft and creamy, almost set but not quite. It would firm up as you referigerate it. Choose to eat it either way. However, it is best to eat these within a day of making, for the best result.
*Tip: The dough is fiddly can can be hard to work with. Just divide the dough and keep the unused parts cool and refrigerated while you work on a single portion. Also, even if the dough tears, you can easily patch it back without worries.