I’ve made this a few times over the years, and like that it’s sort of half cookie half pie, yet called a gâteau. I made it when I have a glut of homemade jam in the house, or all-fruit mincemeat in December. This year I seem to have a surplus of blackberry jam in my freezer, so pulled some out to use in this big sweet sandwich, with jam spread between pieces of buttery cookie-pastry and baked as one giant cookie-pie, and served in thin wedges. You can nibble these out of hand, like a cookie, or serve them on a plate topped with a scoop of ice cream, like a far fancier dessert. The fact that it’s called a gâteau Basque rather than a big cookie-jam sandwich just makes you feel so much more sophisticated as a cook.
Most gâteau Basque, named for the region in France, is tucked into a shallow tart pan, but I figured a) less than 50% of the population owns a fancy fluted tart pan, and b) it’s not necessary for this gâteau to taste delicious.
See? It doesn’t even have to be perfectly round. Just round-ish.
This particular formula comes by way of Dorie Greenspan, who makes hers deeper, in a round cake pan, which makes it thicker, with higher sides and more jam in the middle. I want to try it this way with mincemeat in the middle, like a sort of giant mincemeat cookie tart. My favourite part is brushing all over the surface with beaten egg, and dragging the tines of a fork across the top to make a sort of almost plaid look. The egg makes it glossy, and the lines where the fork has dragged through are a bit paler. I keep thinking I want to apply this treatment to other baked things, but so far have not yet managed to.
Think of the things you could put between the layers! Lemon curd. Sautéed apples and pears. All kinds of jams, especially when you make a big batch and have surplus that won’t fit in your jars. Cranberry-mandarin Christmas preserves spiked with cinnamon.
And look – I love that it’s sort of semi-decorated, but there’s no need to pull out your icing bags and tiny silver dragées. Thanks to the great Dorie for the inspiration, and the cookie-pastry formula.