Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Sour Cherry Gâteau Basque And The Berries We Brought Back From Vermont

I'm not the kind of person who buys souvenirs when I travel. I'm not much of a collector in general, except my props I suppose. I do not like trinkets on my shelves or clutter, but one thing I do love is to discover the foods of the region. I always bring something back.

When we visited the Brattelboro farmers' market in Vermont last weekend, I loaded up on all kind of berries.

Red currants are my weakness. So hard to find in Florida. I had to make sure to bring some home along with sour cherries and black raspberries.

I have been writing at night when the house is quiet.

I am two weeks away from turning in my manuscript. Completely submerged in writing and editing with hours spent in front of the computer. The kitchen becomes my getaway. My place of relaxation and even if it's preparing simple meals, it helps me clear my mind.

So when we returned from Vermont, I spent my free time baking with the berries I brought back home.

One of the pastry stands at the Brattleboro market had a very tempting gâteau basque on display (unfortunately not gluten-free). I turned to Nadia and said "I will be making it at home". And so I did.

The classic gâteau basque is a cross between a cake and a tart. Thick and tender shortdough encasing pastry cream and cherry preserves. (You can find a version I made years ago here).

My recipe is a gluten and dairy free version of the classic. Crunchy cake exterior with a creamy interior filled with pastry cream and fresh sour cherries. Everyone loved it.

I also made a red currant and sour cherry flan tart with leftover tart dough and custard for a recipe I was testing for the book. It was delicious as well. Anything with red currants is amazing in my book. I love the slight sour punch it adds to anything sweet.

There were also berry, ladyfinger and pastry cream verrines. I have had the ladyfingers in the freezer for a while after testing them for the book.

Freezer-cleaning desserts I call them.

I also wanted to tell you about a story I wrote a few weeks ago for one of my favorite allergen-free magazines, Living Without. The issue will not be out until October, but one of my photos for that issue has been selected for the cover (cover #1). You can vote here.

Hope you like it!

Gluten and Dairy Free Sour Cherry And Pastry Cream Gâteau Basque

Makes two 6-inch cakes

Pastry Cream

1 cup (250 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
2 cardamom pods, cracked
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 g) natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons (15 g) cornstarch

Combine the coconut milk, cardamom, and vanilla bean in medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes. Return back to heat and bring it back to a light simmer.

In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl. Strain the simmering milk over the yolks and whisk immediately so the eggs don't curdle. Return custard back to the pot and cook stirring constantly, over medium high heat until it thickens. Transfer the pastry cream to a clean bowl and cool.


1 cup (140 g) superfine brown rice flour
1/2 cup (70 g) millet flour
1/3 cup (35 g) almond flour
1/3 cup (55 g) potato starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup (250 g) natural cane sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups sour cherries, pitted

Pre-heat oven to 325F. Grease 2 (6-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla seeds, olive oil, and coconut milk. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk to combine.

Spread a quarter of the batter on the bottom of each cake pan. Spread evenly. Spread half of the pastry cream over it, then half of the sour cherries on top. Top with the remaining cake batter.

Bake the cakes for 1 hour until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

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