I know, I know. You see the title of this blog post, and if you’re like 99% of the people on this earth, you’re like, “What the heck is cherry gateau Basque?” Well, fear not, because we’re going to get all up in this bizznazz, okay?
If you do weird stuff in a small town like, say, write a food blog, people tend to notice. In my little town of Selma, AL, this is me. I am the self-proclaimed weirdo dessert lady. To be honest, if you’ve gotta be known for something in a small town, I hardly think that being the over-zealous-on-social-media-baker-chick is the worst option. You could be the guy who peed his pants at the softball field… Or the girl who got set up on a date with a distant cousin. Yikes.
The thing is, I think I have fooled people into thinking that I actually know something about food. All of my ranting and posting and sharing of desserts may give the illusion that I know what I’m doing in the kitchen all of the time, but when it comes to actual skills, I’m still very much a student, learning new recipes and techniques one bite, one failure, one stick of butter at a time.
I trick you into thinking that I know more than I do by writing 500+ words a week about layered cakes and no-churn ice cream. You think I have these worldly skills because I use words like brown butter and reference things like laminated dough and acetate sheets. But at the end of the day, I’m a girl with an oven and a screenful of edited photos that may or may not make me seem a lot more legitimate than I actually am. (Hint: they do.)
So here I am, sharing this cherry gateau Basque with you today. I’d seen it in magazines and had read about it in French novels, but up until a month ago, I’d never made one. Is it a cake? Is it a pie? Truthfully, before starting this journey, I didn’t know a cherry gateau Basque from a Pepperoni Hot Pocket. I even had to Google the pronunciation of the word, because, okay, who can pronounce stuff like “gâteau Basque” when they’ve only had five days of practice with the French language? Still, I was determined.
After a few practice rounds and a little internet research, here’s what I know about this dessert. Gateau Basque is a French dessert that originated in (duh) the Basque region. Traditionally, this dessert is filled with preserved cherries or cream and has a buttery, cake-like pastry dough surrounding the gooey filling. The dough is rolled like a pie and fitted into a cake pan before smearing on the filling and topping with an additional sheet of pastry. After baking, the cake is golden and buttery, with a smooth, glossy top and a sliver of sweet fruit peeking through each slice. I was rather unsure when I set out to make this cherry gateau Basque, but I loved the outcome so much that I’ve decided to share the results with all of you. After all, we’re learning and feeling our way through the dark together, right? So let’s dive in!
To make this cherry gateau Basque, we start by making the pastry dough. Room temperature butter is creamed with sugar before an egg and a yolk are added. Next, toss in the dry ingredients and stir only until the mixture barely comes together. Divide the dough in two and roll each half in between its own two sheets of parchment paper until it is thin, smooth, and just barely larger than a 9″ cake pan. Allow to chill in the fridge while the oven preheats.
When ready to bake, prepare your pan with a little butter. Carefully remove the parchment paper from one of the dough rounds and gently press it into the cake pan as if you were lining a pie tin with a sheet of pie dough. Next comes the cherry preserves. I chose a tart cherry jam, but you can use any variety that you enjoy eating. Smear the preserves just shy of the edges of the pan and top it with the second sheet of dough. Trim off any excess dough and pinch the two sheets of pasty together to keep the cherries inside. Gently smooth the top of dough with your fingers and brush with an egg wash before baking.
Once golden and slightly cooled from the heat of the oven, remove the finished cherry gateau Basque from the pan and allow it to come to room temperature. After cooling, you can decorate the cake with a dust of powdered sugar and a handful of sliced seasonal fruits like nectarines, plums, peaches, and cherries. I think a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche would be mega yummy here too, but go for whatever revs your motor. This cherry gateau Basque is delicious all on it’s own, no fancy toppings required.
Learning new recipes and techniques is challenging at times and it’s not without a fair share of failures. But if you find something that strikes your fancy, maybe even this cherry gateau Basque, I hope you’ll give it a try. I really think you can make this dessert, so if you’re up for rolling and filling and munching on fancy pants French desserts that trick your friends into thinking you’re a pro, this cherry gâteau Basque is 100% for you. Give it a try and let me know what you think! And don’t forget to vote for the SAVEUR blog awards! You can find me among the nominees in the “Best Baking and Sweets” category, but be sure to check out the other categories as well. Have a terrific weekend and happy baking!
If you like this cherry gateau Basque, you should try:
Cherry Gateau Basque
Cherry Gâteau Basque is a traditional French dessert made of two layers of pastry filled with cherry preserves. This is a cake meets pie and is perfect for filling with summer fruit!
- Prep Time: 45
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 10 tablespoons (140 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup (100 gm) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, divided
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 cups (260 gm) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup tart cherry jam or preserves
- 1–1/2 cups of mixed fruit, cleaned and sliced for decorating
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the sugar, and beat for an additional 2 minutes until the mixture is fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add one whole egg and the egg yolk, beating on medium speed just until combined. Scrape the bowl and add the dry ingredients. Beat on low speed just until combined. Be careful to not overbeat.
- Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide the dough in half. Place one of the halves in between two large sheets of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into an 11” circle. Set aside and place the second dough ball in between two separate sheets of parchment paper. Roll the second dough piece into a 9” circle. Place both on a flat surface in the fridge and allow to cool for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and move a rack to the upper third of the oven. Grease the insides of a 9×2” cake pan and trim a parchment paper round to line the bottom of the pan.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and allow them to sit out for a few minutes to become pliable. Peel the parchment paper off of the 11” round dough and center it into the greased pan. Gently press the dough into the bottom of the pan and around the edges. Trim off any excess, allowing the dough to travel only halfway up the sides of the pan. Spread the cherry jam in the pan, leaving a ½” border around the edges of the pan. Peel the top parchment paper off of the 9” circle and use a paring knife to trace and trim a circle the diameter of the cake pan in the dough. Transfer the trimmed dough into the cake pan and pinch the edges of the two dough pieces together to seal in the jam. You can wet your fingers lightly to pat out the dough to make it as even as possible. Don’t sweat it if your dough isn’t perfect though.
- Whisk together the remaining egg with 2 teasopons of water and use a pastry brush to paint a thin layer of the egg wash over the top of the pie. Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and set.
Allow the pie to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then carefully move a paring knife around the border of the pie to release the edges. Invert the pie onto a cooling rack and then carefully flip back over onto your serving plate. Allow to cool completely.
- Once ready to serve, garnish with sliced fruit or powdered sugar. Serve immediately.