Margarita's International Recipes


Basque Cake

I first had Basque Cake at a small hotel restaurant in Aoiz, a very small town in Navarra. We had gone to Aoiz for the sole reason that that's where my great-grandmother was from and we had gotten stuck there. It was Easter time, no buses were running, and after hours of trying to hitch a ride in the rain, we'd given up. We stayed at what I think was the only hotel in town (even though it was pretty expensive for our backpacker pockets) and had a delicious (and equally expensive) dinner at the hotel restaurant. The pinnacle of the meal had been the Basque Cake dessert. How something so rich could also taste so simple and delicious is still bewildering to me.

I've since had Basque Cake at other restaurants, both in Spain and the US, but have been generally disappointed with the results. For what I've read, there are hundreds of different recipes (though most seem to include a pastry filling) and perhaps one day I'll find one just as good as the one from Aoiz.

This recipe is certainly not it. I'd cooked other food from the BayWolf Cookbook so I was very hopeful but I was terribly disappointed with the results. Part of it might be my fault. The original recipe called for anisette and orange flower water in the aromatic liquid. I hate anise so I decided to substitute both for orange juice. Other than that, I followed the recipe faithfully. The results were inedible. The cake dough itself was pretty good, but the pastry cream was horrible, it tasted of bitter alcohol and little else. Needless to say, I would not recommend you make this recipe.

Basque Cake


Aromatic Liquid


Pastry cream

Egg Wash

  • Powdered sugar


    Prepare the aromatic liquid by mixing all ingredients together.

    Prepare the dough. Beat together the butter and the sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and yolk with 2 tbsp. of the aromatic liquid. Add egg mixture to the butter mixture and beat. Sift the flours and baking powder into the butter-egg mixture and beat. You'll get a very sticky dough. Remove it from the mixer and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

    Prepare the pastry cream. Mix the egg and egg yolk and sift the cornstarch and sugar together into the egg mixture. In a medium-size pot bring the milk to a boil. Add a few tablespoons of the hot milk to the egg mixture and mix. Add the egg mixture to the pot of milk. Mix and cook over low heat until thick. Stir in the remaining aromatic mixture and the vanilla extract. Strain through a fine strainer into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge until cold.

    Prepare the egg wash. Mix together the egg, milk and salt.

    Assemble the cake. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9" springform pan. Divide the dough in two, one part larger than the other. Put the larger portion in the pan and cover the bottom and the sides of the pan with the dough. Pour in the pastry cream into the center of the cake dough. Shape the remaining dough into a circle the size of the pan and lay it on top of the pastry cream. Join the corners of the top dough with the side dough. Brush the edge of the cake with egg wash. Prick air holes in the top of the cake. Bake for 20 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Let cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar and serve.

    Adapted from BayWolf Restaurant Cookbook.

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