Friday, September 10, 2010

Basque Strawberry Cake

Let me start by saying that making this cake was the most fun I've had in the kitchen in a long time.  When we were in France I picked up the July/August issue of Elle à Table, which I referred to recently in my carrot cake post.  I love this magazine.  Yes, it's in French and No, I do not understand everything, but I know enough to get started with virtually any recipe...then I bug my husband for translation help.

My mouth literally dropped open when I saw the photos for the Basque Strawberry Cake, called Gateau Basque Aux Fraises in French.  I will let you know up front:  this is not a quick, hurry-and-throw-it-together-while-making-dinner dessert.  You need a good hour to put this together, but it is not difficult and sooo worth the time and effort.  Trust me.

Gateau Basque Aux Fraises (Basque Strawberry Cake)
Translated from Elle à Table, Juillet-Aout, 2010

Strawberry Pasty Cream
150g/1c fresh strawberries, mashed
75g/2/3c milk
35g/3T sugar
25g/scant 1/4c cornstarch
25g/2T unsalted butter, soft

1.  Add strawberries to a saucepan and cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.  In a bowl combine the sugar, cornstarch, and milk and beat with a hand mixer until well blended, 2-3 minutes. Slowly incorporate mix into the saucepan with strawberries and cook, stirring constantly, 5-8 minutes until mixture thickens (you want a consistently that's slightly thicker than pudding).

2.  Remove from heat and, little by little, incorporate the butter.  Scrape cream onto a plate or shallow dish, cover with plastic (so that the plastic is touching the surface), and set aside to cool.

Pastry Crust
260g/1c unsalted butter, soft
185g/3/4c sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
325g/2.5c flour
125g/1c almond flour (or ground almonds)
1 egg and 1 yolk
1t salt

1.  Mix the butter and sugar together and stir in the lemon zest, almond flour, eggs.  Stir just until the mixture is well combined.  Add directly to another bowl that contains the flour and salt.  Mix well and form into a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you make the jam.

Quick Strawberry Jam
150g/1c frozen strawberries
40g/3.5T sugar

1.  In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the strawberries and sugar for 2 minutes.  Using a colander or sieve, drain the fruit, collecting the juice in another saucepan (or bowl) and reserving the berries.  Cook juice over high heat until reduce by half. Add reserved berries and cook an additional 20 minutes until mix thickens slightly.  Remove from heat and cool.

Assembling the cake

Preheat oven to 170c or 340F
Butter a small square pan, 6", 7," or 8"

1.  Take the ball of dough and cut into three pieces.  The first should be 180g or about 3/4c.  The second should be 80g or about 1/3c.  The third piece is the remaining dough for the top and should be the largest piece. Since I am not an expert on translating grams to cups--especially when it comes to something like dough--you will need to eyeball this part.

2.  Press the first piece of dough into the bottom of the pan.  It should be approximately 1/4" thick.

3.  Using the second, smaller bit of dough, cut into four equal pieces and roll each into a rope shape to fit each side of the pan.  Place ropes on top of bottom layer of dough, lightly pressing each into the dough.

4.  Add pastry cream and spread to reach all corners of the dough ropes.  Top with jam mix--it is not necessary to spread it out entirely, just a little bit.

5.  Roll out the remaining dough to fit the top of the pan (approx. 1/2" thick) and carefully lay it over the pastry cream and jam filling.  The dough should fit the pan evenly on all side, no gaps.

6.  Using a pastry brush, coat the top with one beaten egg yolk.  Using a sharp knife, slice two-inch swirl marks on the dough (see my photo below) in different directions.

7.  Bake 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, cover with foil or parchment and bake an additional 15 minutes until golden brown.

1 comment:

  1. It was nice to see the transformation to this yummy pastry I see before me. :P