Basque Cake

Basque Cake

This style of cake is from the northern region of Spain, known for baking its cakes with the pastry cream layered in the batter, instead of slicing the cake and adding it after baking. By baking the layer of custard into the cake, your left with a moist and flavorful cake. The rum and vanilla permeate the cake as it’s baked. If you don’t cook with rum, you can leave it out, or add a different flavoring in its place. If you do use rum, you can add more than the recipe calls for if you want more flavor.

Basque Cake Ingredients

The recipe and detailed instructions are at the end of this post. For this recipe we need whole milk, vanilla extract, cornstarch, granulated sugar, salt, eggs, butter, cake flour, baking powder, dark rum, almonds, and confectioners sugar. Looks like we have it all. Ready, set, bake…

Milk in saucepanCornstarch and sugarCornstarch and sugar all mixedAdding an eggMixed egg with cornstarch and sugar

First were going to make our pastry cream. I’ve scaled down a much larger recipe, so there are some odd measurements. One more reason to invest $30 – $40 on a scale. Start by placing the milk in a stainless steel saucepan (if it’s aluminum your pastry cream will turn out gray or green). Bring to a boil and quickly turn it down to a simmer.

Remember to watch the milk so it does not return to a boil during this next step. Whisk the cornstarch, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Add the egg and mix until smooth.

Learn from my mistake here, powdered sugar and cornstarch look very much alike. If you pre-measure your ingredients be sure to add the cornstarch and not the powdered sugar to the mixture. It will not thicken up and will be overly sweet if you put the confectioners sugar in instead. I quickly made another batch after I caught my error.

Tempering the milk and egg mixtureTempering the milk and egg mixtureTempering the milk and egg mixtureTempering the milk and egg mixtureTempering the milk and egg mixtureAdding the vanillaAdding the bitterPastry Cream finished

Now to temper the egg mixture with the milk mixture. Slowly add one-third of the hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking rapidly. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining milk, whisking constantly.

Over medium heat cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Stir in the vanilla extract, then once its incorporated stir in the butter until it is melted and the custard is smooth. Pour the custard into a bowl and cover.

Creaming the butter, sugar and vanillaCreaming the butter, sugar and vanillaAdding the eggs one at a timeAdding the eggs one at a timeFinished mixture

It’s much easier to cream when your butter is at room temperature, so be sure to take your butter out of the fridge 45 minutes to an hour before you begin making the cake. You can always put your butter in the microwave, using 5 second intervals until its come to room temperature. Be careful though, you don’t want to melt the butter making it unusable. Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until mixture is smooth.

Sifting the the flour, baking powder, and saltSifting the the flour, baking powder, and saltAdding the flour mixture in thirdsAdding the flour mixture in thirdsAdding the flour mixture in thirdsCake batter all mixed

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter mixture in thirds until just combined. Don’t forget to scape down the bowl a few times to make sure the ingredients are all getting mixed in.

Cake pan and pastry bagPiped batterAdding rum to pastry creamAdding rum to pastry cream, mixedPastry cream on the bottom layer of cake

Something new I learned this week, the numbers used in pastry bag tips (No. 1 – No. 9) are half the size of the opening on the tip in millimeters. For example a No. 9 tip has a 18-mm opening and a No. 2 tip has a 4-mm opening. A pastry bag with a wide tip are used here to get the batter in the cake pan. It does not matter how “pretty” it looks because as it bakes the rings are lost. What is important is that it covers the pan bottom completely.

Grease the inside of a 10 inch (25 cm) cake pan. Place the batter in a pastry bag with a No. 5 (10-mm) plain tip. Pipe the batter in a spiral over the bottom of the prepared cake pan, starting in the center. Pipe an additional ring of batter on top of the ring against the inside perimeter of the pan (you will only use 1/2 the prepared batter in this step).

Stir the rum into the pastry cream. Pour the pastry cream in the middle of the cake pan, within the frames made by the outside ring of batter.

Pastry Cream evened out in layerPiped batter on topSmoothing out the batterAdding the almonds on the topBaked cake ready to cool

Use a spatula to spread the pastry cream evenly over the piped batter, but take care not to get any of it on the cake pan. Pipe the reaming batter in a spiral on the top of the pastry cream. Use a small spatula to spread the batter to the edge of the pan. Sprinkle slices almonds over the top.

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 50 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan.

Basque Cake

Remove the cake from the pan and dust with powdered sugar. Store, covered, in the refrigerator, it will keep fresh up to one week.

Recipe: Basque Cake

Adapted from The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry, 4th EditionPrint Recipe
Yield: 8-16 servings

Ingredients

Pastry Cream
  • 5.33 ounces (160 ml) whole milk
  • 1/6 vanilla bean or 1/6 teaspoon (1 ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (12 g) cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup (38 g) granulated sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 an egg
  • 1/2 ounce unsalted butter
Cake
  • 12 ounces (340 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 12 ounces (340 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 10 ounces (285 g) cake flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon (6 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) dark rum
  • 8 ounces (228 g) pastry cream
  • 1 ounces (28 g) thinly slices almonds
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Place milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.
  2. Keeping an eye on the milk, whisk the cornstarch, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Gradually add the eggs and mix until smooth.
  3. Slowly add about one-third of the hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking rapidly. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining milk.
  4. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Stir in the vanilla extract. Stir in the butter continuing to stir until it is completely incorporated. Pour the custard into a bowl and cover.
  5. Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the butter mixture in three steps.
  7. Grease the inside of a 10 inch (25 cm) cake pan. Place the batter in a pastry bag with a No. 5 (10-mm) plain tip. Pipe the batter in a spiral over the bottom of the prepared cake pan, starting in the center. Pipe an additional ring of batter on top of the ring against the inside perimeter of the pan.
  8. Stir the rum into the pastry cream. Spread the pastry cream evenly within the frames made by the batter so that the pastry cream does not touch the sides of the pan. Pipe the reaming batter in a spiral on the top of the pastry cream. Use a small spatula to spread the batter to the edge of the pan. Sprinkle the slices almonds over the top.
  9. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 50 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and dust with powdered sugar.

About Jeff

Graphic Designer in San Diego CA
This entry was posted in Cakes, Recipe. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Basque Cake

  1. astheroshe says:

    That is very nice! ..and i Love all you pics.. I never take the time to take that many ..Great JOB!

  2. pam says:

    Hi Jeff! I just found this luscious recipe post for Basque Cake and baked it yesterday as I was determined to make one for Twelfth Night this year. A little fiddly to be sure, but so worth it. OMG this cake is absolutely delicious. Thank you!

    I also wanted to comment on how you have designed the presentations and included so many images of the progress. Well done!

    Now I can’t wait to explore the rest of what you have to offer.

  3. Marie says:

    I am about to make this again and thought I’d drop a note. I made this for Mother’s Day and it is SO GOOD! I thought it would be a one time thing, but I wanted to make more immediately.
    BTW, the pan I own that is closest to the right size is a square skillet. So I used it, and it worked quite well. I suspect the skillet actually helped, because it came out with a wonderful toothy crust all around.
    Such a great recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Peggy DeBell says:

    Jeff,
    We had several versions of this cake last summer in France and my husband wanted one for his birthday. I found your recipe and made it to share with friends who had been with us in France. We all agreed you hit the mark exactly! Thanks for the fabulous recipe. I’ll be baking it again….and soon!

  5. Tami says:

    It’s nice to see I’m not the only one who loves looking in these huge pastry books. Great Job on the cake. It came out picture perfect!

  6. madeitwithlove says:

    Ooooooo Y U M!!!!!! E E E E E

  7. Christine Buss says:

    This cake was delicious. Thank you so much for the recipe. I’m wondering if you have ever tried making a smaller version – like an 8 inch cake? What measurements would you use and how long would you bake it?

    • Jeff says:

      I havent tried to make a smaller version. If trying I would reduce the amount of all the ingredients by 20% (if your weighing your ingredients that will be easy) and baking it at the same temperature – just be sure to start checking it to make sure it does not burn at about 40 minutes. If you try it let me know how it turned out!

  8. Gemma Arthur says:

    This is my favorite cake ever! One question, would spiced rum ruin the taste of the cake?

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