Dessert. Brunch. Sweet snack. Coffee. This wonderfully delicious cake…no, pie…no, tart…no, cookie?? Hmm… I think it’s best described as a filled cake that can be enjoyed at any time of day. It’s just subtly sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Our French Custard Butter Cake was inspired by a classic Gateau Basque. So, what is a Gateau Basque? It is a traditional cake originating in the Basque region of France – hence Cake of Basque. The “layers” of this sturdy cake are made with almond flour, and in our version, it’s filled with an amaretto-flavored pastry cream. This recipe uses our new Extra Creamy Salted Butter which results in a tender crust surrounding the creamy filling. Timing is critical with this cake, especially the last refrigeration step -. If you cut into it too soon, you will end up with a pastry cream covered countertop.
The first step is to make the filling. Combine 1½ cups milk and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it just begins to bubble around the edge. It’ll take about 10-12 minutes.
While the mixture is bubbling, place 1 egg, 2 yolks and remaining ½ cup milk in a large bowl; whisk until combined. Stir in ½ cup flour until smooth.
Slowly add ¾ cup hot milk mixture into the egg mixture – don’t stop whisking! This process is referred to as tempering the eggs. If you tried to add the cold eggs right to the hot milk you’d have scrambled eggs for your cake filling. Add the - warm egg mixture into the saucepan with the hot milk, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding and bubbles just start to form. It should take about 4-6 minutes. Don’t boil, though, or, again, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!
Remove from the heat and stir in the amaretto. If you don’t have amaretto, -simply substitute ½ teaspoon almond extract. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and press plastic food wrap onto the surface of the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Let this sit in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
While the filling is in the fridge, start assembling the dough. Combine flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl, mix well and set aside. The almond flour adds a little extra flavor as well as some texture to the cake. In another bowl beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add 2 eggs and 3 yolks – 1 at a time, mixing well between each addition. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating at low speed until well-combined. The dough will be the same texture as cookie dough.
Shape 1/3 of the dough into a flat circle and warp with plastic food wrap. Shape and wrap the remaining dough in the same way, refrigerate both for at least 2 hours and until firm.
Now for assembly! Heat oven to 375°F and place rack in the lowest position. Spray a 9-inch round springform pan with no-stick cooking spray and set aside. If you are using a dark colored pan like the one on the right, the baking directions are a bit different. Heat the oven to 350°F and bake on the middle rack for about 60 minutes.
Roll out the larger portion of dough on a well-floured surface to a 13-inch rectangle. I like to use a ruler and masking tape to mark how large to make the circle.
When a recipe calls for a certain size, it’s important to pay attention so your assembly goes as smoothly as possible. When we develop recipes in the Test Kitchens, we call for sizes like this so you have success at home! An inch or two too small, and you won’t have enough overlap to cover the filling.
Okay, back to the cake. Carefully fold your rolled circle in half and place into the prepared pan. Unfold and press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Let the excess drape over the edge of the pan. If the dough cracks, do not panic! Simply press the pieces back together.
Spread the cooled filling onto the dough.
Roll the smaller portion of dough into an 8-inch circle and place over filling.
Beat 1 yolk and 1/8 teaspoon of salt in a small bowl. Gently brush the smaller piece of dough with the egg wash.
Carefully fold the excess dough that was draped over the edge over the top and brush with the remaining egg wash. Score dough with fork in a crisscross design over the top of the cake.
The crisscross pattern is the traditional design to indicate the center is pastry cream. If the center was black cherry jam (another traditional filling) it would be topped with a rounded pinwheel cross also known as a Lauburu.
Bake for 45 minutes, and then loosely cover with aluminum foil. Continue to bake for 15-17 minutes or until the cake is deep, golden brown.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then carefully remove the side of the pan. Refrigerate at least 5 hours, or overnight if you have the time. If you -refrigerate the cake for any less than 5 hours, the center won’t be set and you’ll have a goopy mess. The cake is best served at room temp with a cup of coffee.
We’d love to see how your French Custard Butter Cake turned out! Take a picture and tag @landolakesktchn on Instagram so we can see the final creation! Happy Baking!