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Basque Cake with Pastry Cream Filling

  • Pastry Cream flavored with 2 tablespoons Basque aromatic mixture, chilled
  • 6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour, (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3 ounces cake flour, (2/3 cup)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 9 tablespoons sugar, preferably superfine
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Basque Aromatic Mixture
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 inch vanilla bean, split, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp superfine sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon flavoring (use Basque Aromatic Mixture for Gateau Basque)
  • 2 Tbsps orange flower water
  • 2 Tbsps anisette
  • 2 Tbsps dark rum
  • 1/4 cup Armagnac
  • 1 Tsp almond extract
  • 1 strip untreated lemon or orange peel

One day in advance, prepare Pastry Cream: Bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla bean, if using, in a small saucepan. Cover and set aside. Place salt, sugar, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl; beat until pale yellow and thick. Beat in the cornstarch and vanilla extract, if using; beat until smooth. If using vanilla bean, remove it from the hot milk. Gradually beat the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Pour into clean saucepan, set over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until boiling. Continue to stir vigorously until the custard is no longer lumpy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and continue to beat vigorously 30 seconds longer. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Stir in cream, butter, and flavoring. Stir from time to time as the Pastry Cream cools. Place a sheet of buttered waxed paper directly on the cream to inhibit the formation of a skin. Chill. Basque Aromatic Mixture: Mix together orange water, anisette, rum, armagnac, almond extract and lemon peel in a clean jar, cover tightly, and keep in a cool cupboard or refrigerator. Sift flours, salt, and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside. With a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar by spoonfuls. Cream together until very light and fluffy. The mixture must not feel granular. Set aside 2 tablespoons beaten egg for glazing. Add the remaining eggs to butter and sugar by spoonfuls, beating well between additions to blend completely. If using an electric mixer, add eggs at low speed. Add the Basque Aromatic Mixture and one quarter of the sifted flour. Fold in remaining flour and gather into a ball. Do not overmix or knead the dough. It will be very sticky and soft. Dust lightly with flour and invert into a wide soup bowl. Wrap in waxed paper. Let rest overnight in the refrigerator. Early the following day, divide the dough into 2 unequal parts, one slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger portion into a 10 inch round between the sheets of lightly floured waxed paper. (Loosen paper from time to time to facilitate rolling.) Remove top sheet of paper and invert dough into 8 inch cake pan; line bottom and sides. Peel off paper; if pastry tears, use edges to repair or pinch torn pastry together. Trim edges and fill with pastry cream. roll out smaller ball into an 8 inch round. Remove paper and invert onto filling; crimp edges. Chill completely. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place a baking sheet or tile on lowest oven rack. Brush pastry with reserved beaten egg diluted with 1 teaspoon milk. Make crisscrossing marks on top with the back of the tines of a fork. Make 3 slashes for escaping steam. Place on heated baking sheet or hot tile. Immediately lower oven temperature to 375 F. and bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake is a light golden brown. Remove to a rack and let cool 10 minutes. Invert out of pan and invert again onto a rack to cool completely The cake will harden as it cools. Serve at room temperature, cut in wedges. VARIATIONS: Substitute 12 ounces (1 jar) black (bing) cherry preserves (preferably Hero brand) for Pastry Cream. Mixed Pastry Cream and preserves: Place 1 1/3 cups Basque Aromatic Mixture-flavored Pastry Cream on pastry; cover with layer of black cherry preserves (about 1/2 cup, gently heated in order to spread easily over the Pastry Cream).

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