Vanilla bean pastry cream and brandied cherries fill a crisp, crumbly, and buttery almond cake. This French Gateau Basque is simplicity at its grandest.
The first step to making the Cherry Gateau Basque Cake is to soak your cherries overnight. Place dried cherries into a mason jar or bowl and cover with Cognac. hen cover with a lid or plastic wrap and soak overnight, or at least 4 hours.
Once you are ready to begin the pastry cream, drain the cherries. Save infused Cognac for use of choice.
Then work on your pastry cream.
First, separate 4 egg, and set the yolks into a large bowl.
Then whisk in cornstarch. Whisk while adding in a splash of milk to thin out the yolks and mix until smooth. Then set aside.
In a medium sized saucepan, whisk together the remaining milk, sugar, and pinch of salt. Set the heat on medium to medium low.
Once the milk mixture begins to have bubbles forming around the edges, temper a bit of that warm milk into the egg mixture. To ensure you don’t end up with scrambled eggs, whisk the eggs constantly as you pour in a steady, pencil thin stream of the milk.
Then return everything to the saucepan. Stir until the pastry cream thickens, about 8 minutes. The pastry cream should coat a spoon and stick once you swipe a finger down it.
Then remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste and the cherry infused brandy. Pour the pastry cream into a bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Then cool to room temperature. *If you are making this cherry gateau basque in stages, then refrigerate the pastry cream until ready to fill.
Now on to the cake! This gateau basque is buttery, slightly crumbly, and dry (in a good way!). This cake serves as the sturdy shell to hold in all that decadent pastry cream. I use almond flour in my cake for almond flavor. The recipe notes include optional almond extract if you like that flavor in addition.
To make the cake, use your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. I use my mini stand mixer for smaller recipes like this Cherry Gateau Basque Cake since it also has a built in scraper.
Begin beating softened butter for a couple of minutes. Then scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Beat for 3 minutes on medium speed. Then add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, almond extract (if using). Mix until incorporated. Whisk together the almond flour with the baking soda, salt, orange zest, and flour. Then turn the mixer to the lowest setting. Gradually add in those dry ingredients and let the dough come together.
Then divide the dough into two equal pieces. Flatten into discs, wrap in plastic wrap or between two sheets of parchment. Then chill for 30 minutes.
ASSEMBLE THE CHERRY GATEAU BASQUE
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To assemble this cake, generously butter a 9 inch springform pan. You can also use a tart pan or a pan with a removable bottom. Since this is a filled cake, using a removable bottom of some sort is a safe bet to release it without disturbing the filling before it sets.
After buttering the pan, line the bottom with parchment.
Then roll out one of the dough discs to a 12 inch circle. Position it inside of the bottom of the springform pan. Gently push the sides up against the pan.
Then fill the bottom with pastry cream. Scatter on the drained cherries.
Roll out the second disc to 9 inches. Then set that on top of the pastry cream. Crimp the edges together seal. Use a fork to score the top of the cake.
Then brush the Gateau basque with egg wash.
Bake for 30 minutes. Then cool completely to room temperature before cutting! Or, if you are like me, eat while still warm!