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Gâteau Basque

(recipe, Maria Villegas & Sarah Randell)


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Introduction

The Basque country is squeezed into the southwestern corner of France, bordered by the sea on one side and Spain on the other. Just about every Basque household has its own recipe for this baked tart, which is also known as véritable pastiza.

Ingredients

    Almond pastry
    1. 13 oz. (about 2½ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
    2. 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
    3. ¼ cup ground almonds
    4. ⅔ cup superfine sugar (see Note)
    5. 1 egg
    6. 1 egg yolk
    7. ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
    8. ⅔ cup (11 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
    Almond pastry cream (see Note)
    1. 6 egg yolks
    2. ¾ cup superfine sugar
    3. ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    4. ⅓ cup ground almonds
    5. 4 cups milk
    6. 4 vanilla beans
    Preserves and glaze
    1. 4 Tbsp. thick black cherry or plum preserves
    2. 1 egg, lightly beaten

    Steps

    1. Make the pastry: Mix the flour, lemon zest, and almonds together, turn out onto a work surface, and make a well in the center.
    2. Put the sugar, egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and butter in the well. Mix together the sugar, eggs, and butter, using a pecking action with your fingertips and thumb.
    3. Once they are mixed, use the edge of a flexible bladed knife to incorporate the flour, flicking it onto the dough and then chopping through it. Bring the dough together with your hands. Wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
    4. Roll out two-thirds of the pastry to fit a 10-inch tart ring. Trim the edge and chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
    5. Make the almond pastry cream: Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. Sift in the flour and ground almonds and mix together well.
    6. Put the milk in a saucepan. Split the vanilla beans in two, scrape out the seeds, and add the beans and seeds to the milk. Bring just to a boil, then strain over the egg-yolk mixture, stirring continuously. Pour back into the clean saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly — it will be lumpy at first but will become smooth as you stir. Boil for 2 minutes, then allow to cool.
    7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    8. Assemble the tart: Spread the preserves over the bottom of the pastry shell, then spread with the pastry cream. Roll out the remaining pastry to make a top for the pie. Brush the edge of the pastry shell with the beaten egg, put the pastry top over it, and press it together around the side. Trim the edge. Brush the top of the pie with beaten egg and gently score in a criss-cross pattern.
    9. Bake the tart: Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving, either slightly warm or cool.

    Note

    Culinate editor's notes: British recipes often call for superfine sugar. If you can't find it at your local grocery store, make your own by grinding granulated sugar in a small food processor, a blender, or the blender attachment that often comes with a stick blender. No time or equipment handy? Just use regular granulated sugar; the recipe won't suffer. You may find that the dough needs a bit of cold water or milk to bind it together. If you don't have enough dough for the top crust, just cut it into long strips and make a lattice crust. For the pastry cream, you can replace the four vanilla beans with vanilla and/or almond extract. The recipe also makes far more cream than you'll need to fill a 10-inch or even an 11-inch tart pan. Bake the extra as custards in ramekins, or just use the excess as a soft dessert topping for fruit. You'll need to bake the tart for at least an hour, not just 40 minutes. Put a baking sheet under the tart pan to catch the jam juice that will inevitably bubble up between the cracks in the crust and drip over the sides of the pan.