Exploring the World of French Pastry

If you’re like me, you’ve always considered French pastries too hard to make yourself.  Admire them in the windows of patisseries across Paris or at your local bakery, but don’t attempt the flaky crusts, creamy chocolate, or perfect crème flavor in your own kitchen.

This recipe, Gateau Basque, has changed that for me.  It’s a simple, tasty, do-it-yourself pastry from the  Basque region of France. 

Gateau Basque can be customized with different jams or pastry creams to your particular liking.  I used Stonewall Kitchen’s Sour Cherry Jam.  Any good berry jam would work, provided it doesn’t have seeds.  I definitely recommend splurging on a gourmet jam since the filling is the true star of this cake.

As the original recipe warned, Gateau Basque is dry.  It is best served warm with milk, or room temperature with coffee or tea.  It would make a great housewarming or brunch gift, especially if you know the recipient enjoys sweets accompanied by hot drinks.

As someone with a full-time job, I found it easiest to make the crust one night, refrigerate it for 24 hours, and then assemble the layers and bake the next evening.  But with only a three hour refrigeration requirement, Gateau Basque can fit into your schedule, and the result is well worth it.

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