Sour Cherry Coconut Gateau Basque
Second Helpings #25
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This recipe was supposed to be with you last week, but something happened. Overconfidence happened, and it led to my downfall, well it led to a disastrous first test of this recipe, an embarrassing buffet of rookie errors. Gateau Basque is a relatively simple dish, a buttery crust filled with either cherry jam or custard and, more often than not, both. The gateau is a close relative to the Gateau Breton, another French dish I have made many times - it should have been so easy. I somehow managed to use too small of a mould and also added too much baking powder. Both of these errors in judgment led to a gateau that exploded, rather dramatically, over the sides of the tart tin. The gateau, and its overhanging pastry skirt, baked up nice and crisp all over the baking tray. I like things baked ‘bien cuit’, but this was more of a bonfire than well-browned. So, before I shared the recipe with you, I needed to dial down on the recipe and make something with as little room for error as possible.
The dough for this type of cake (is it a cake? Is it a pastry? I think it probably defies categorisation) is a cross between cake and pastry, like a cakey cookie. It gets its texture from a generous amount of butter, a little baking powder for lift and lots of egg yolks for richness. Working with the dough can be tricky, it's like working with a pastry with too much butter; it can get very soft very quickly. In this recipe, the fridge is your friend. The filling is traditionally a classic pastry cream or a cherry jam, and as I already mentioned, quite often, it's a mix of the two. I didn’t want to drift too far away from the original for my version, but I had coconut on my mind and wanted to incorporate that into the finished dish somehow. I also love sour cherries so I wanted to switch out sweet cherries for the tart variety.
For the coconut element, it felt natural to go with the custard; a coconut cream pie meets gateau Basque. Yes, please! On my first test, I toasted 100g of desiccated coconut and mixed that with a coconut cream-based pastry cream that was enriched with coconut oil. Triple coconut? That sounds great, right? It tasted fantastic, but I missed the silky smooth texture of a classic pastry cream, so I decided to keep things simple, ditch the toasted coconut and stick with a silky smooth coconut milk pastry cream paired with a sour cherry filling. The result was fantastic, but if you are missing the added texture, feel free to add the desiccated coconut back into the custard.
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