A seriously squidgy recipe for Basque cake from Rose Blackett-Ord, made with Easter spices and bursting with flavour
Basque cake with Easter spices is delicious to serve at tea time on Easter Sunday. (You might like to read our recipe for simnel cake too.) Nothing symbolises Easter quite like eggs so here’s our selection of the best eggs you can buy.
BASQUE CAKE WITH EASTER SPICES
Somewhere between a cake and a tart this Basque cake with Easter spices is made from sweet shortcrust pastry dough filled with pastry cream before being baked like a cake. In its basic form it’s a classic, but I’ve given it an Easter recipe angle with some of the spices you might expect to find in a hot cross bun. Best served warm, this Basque cake with Easter spices can be eaten with cream as a dessert with a difference or with a shot of espresso as a teatime treat.
Fills 8in cake tin
- 200g (7oz) butter
- 200g (7oz) sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3 eggs
- 300g (11oz) flour
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 50g (2oz) almond flour
- A little beaten egg to glaze
For the pastry cream
- 400ml (14fl oz) milk
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- 1⁄4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 90g (31⁄2oz) sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 60g (21⁄2oz) flour
- 150g (5oz) raisins, soaked in
- 1 tsp rum
To make Basque cake with Easter spices, first cream the butter, sugar and lemon, then beat in the eggs.
Sieve in the flour and mixed spice, add the almond flour and salt and mix into a dough (flour your hands and work surface).Form it into a flat disc, cling film it and refrigerate for two hours.
In the meantime, gently heat the milk with all the spices until steaming, then leave in a warm place for five minutes to infuse. Heat it back up until it steams while whisking the sugar into the egg yolks until they are pale and creamy. Sieve the hot milk and whisk it into the yolks a little at a time.
Pour the mixture back into the milk pan, whisk in the flour and bring slowly to a boil, whisking until thick and smooth. Put cling film directly on the surface and allow to cool.
Beat the raisins into the cooled pastry cream. Roll out two circles of dough, one slightly larger than the other. Press the larger circle into the buttered cake tin (it should extend up the sides).
Fill the middle with pastry cream and top with the smaller circle, pressing the edges together until sealed. Brush a little beaten egg on the top and mark in a criss-cross pattern with a fork.
Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 35-45 minutes. The top should be golden-brown and the pastry cooked through. Serve warm.
What is the history of Basque cake?
In the Basque language the cake is known as “etxeko bixkotxa” and was originally eaten only during Sunday meals and on special occasions. Each family has its own recipe which passed through the generations. The story is that a Basque woman named Marianne Hirigoyen began to make and sell her Gâteau Basque in the market of Bayonne sometime around the 1830s where it quickly became popular.
There is even a Basque cake museum you can visit (40 minutes from Biarritz) and there is a gastronomic celebration for the cake in the first weekend of October in Cambo-les-Bains.
This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.