A gluten-free take on the classic Basque dessert filled with homemade custard from Aran Goyoaga's amazing cookbook. The pastry is somewhere between a tart and a cake, and oftentimes, the top is decorated with a lauburu, the symbol of Basque unity.
The Basque Country is divided between Spain and France. The North in France (iparralde, as we call it) speaks Basque with a French accent, and the South in Spain (hegoalde) speaks Basque—well, you guessed it—with a Spanish accent. Until the European Union eliminated all borders, we had to bring our passports anytime we traveled to the North. There was always tension felt at the border and exhilaration once we made it through. I loved driving those sixty miles to simply eat some Gâteau Basque at centuries-old Maison Adam. The pastry was very popular in the North and hard to find in the South, its buttery crust filled with creamy custard or preserves from nearby jam makers. The pastry is somewhere between a tart and a cake, and oftentimes, the top is decorated with a lauburu, the symbol of Basque unity.
*(c)2019 By Aran Goyoaga. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Cannelle et Vanille by permission of Sasquatch Books.
Makes one 9-inch tart
1 1/2 cups (340 g) whole milk
1/2 cup (100 g) light brown sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 medium lemon
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup (55 g) heavy cream
1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
For the pastry:
1 cup (225 g) very soft unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
4 whole eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (140 g) superfine brown rice flour
1 cup (160 g) potato starch
1 1/4 cups (125 g) almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
- First, make the custard. Combine the milk, 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, and the vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Using a vegetable peeler, cut three strips of lemon rind (avoiding the white pith) and add it to the milk. Bring the milk to a simmer, turn the heat off, and steep the milk for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, heavy cream, and cornstarch together until smooth. Return the milk to a simmer, and pour it over the egg mixture while whisking constantly. Strain this custard base through a fine-mesh sieve back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. As soon as the custard thickens, about 2 minutes, transfer the custard into a clean bowl. Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic is pressed against it, which will help keep the custard from developing a thin skin on top. Let the custard cool completely before proceeding. You can make it 1 day in advance and keep it in the refrigerator.
- Next, make the pastry. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla seeds. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium-high speed until very creamy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle to make sure everything is really well mixed.
- Add 3 of the eggs, one at a time, while the mixer is running, waiting to add the next one until each is well incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the paddle once again.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, potato starch, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until the dough comes together well—it will have the consistency of cookie dough.
- To assemble the tart, grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan with butter. Cut a 9-inch circle of parchment paper, and press it into the bottom of the pan. I prefer to use a piping bag to fill the pan with pastry, but you could simply use a rubber spatula. Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip that is about 1/2 inch in diameter. Scoop the pastry dough into the piping bag. Start piping rings of dough, starting in the center and working your way toward the edges. Cover the entire bottom of the pan. Then pipe another line of dough around the perimeter of the pan—this will create a wall where the custard will go.
- Fill the center of the cavity with the custard, no higher than the top of the perimeter dough line, and smooth the top with a spatula. Do not overfill with custard or it will seep out the edges.
- Finish piping the pastry dough over the custard, starting in the center and working your way to the edges of the pan.
- Cover the tart with plastic wrap and gently press down to smooth the top. Refrigerate the tart until the pastry is firm, about 2 hours.
- About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the remaining egg, and brush it on the top of the pastry. Using a fork, create a crisscross pattern on top. Bake the tart for 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown. Let the tart cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes as it has a tendency to crumble when hot. Turn the tart out onto a cooling rack, and let it rest for another 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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