Pumpkin Gâteau Basque

I haven’t updated the blog for a long time, and I can’t believe it is already October. Also, my book French Pastry 101 with Page Street Publishing is coming out about a month from today! It is Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. I am especially thankful for all the opportunities and resources that I have been blessed with. It feels great to be grateful for all things that we have – even challenges, and shifting our focus from the things that we do not have.

The recipe I am sharing here is the Pumpkin Gâteau Basque. We currently have this in the personal size at the bakery, and this is a large homemade version. Gâteau Basque is a pastry originated in Basque region of France. It is traditionally an almond pastry filled with vanilla pastry cream, and sometimes with cherries. It is both like a pie and a cake. I have made a slated caramel version a couple years ago, it can be found here. Celebrating North American thanksgiving, I have created this version with a pumpkin pastry cream and warm spices. I even decorated the top with cute little leaf cut-outs, making it extra festive!  This recipe was written for Vancouver Sun thanksgiving recipes this year, along with other chefs in the city.

Pumpkin Gâteau Basque


  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Half of a vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup + 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pumpkin pastry cream:
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar, divided
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (canned)
  • ¾ cup whipping cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Assembly:
  • Egg wash
  • To serve:
  • Whipped cream, if desired


  1. In the bowl of a mixer, place butter, vanilla seeds or extract, sugar, and almond flour. Mix with the paddle attachment on medium speed just until incorporated. Refrain from incorporating too much air. Add the egg yolk and egg, mix until incorporated on medium speed, about 20 seconds. Add the flour and salt, mix on low speed for 20-30 seconds, just until there is no more dryness. Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and pat into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least two hours or preferably overnight.
  2. For the pastry cream, combine a tablespoon of sugar with the pumpkin puree and whipping cream in a medium saucepan and heat it over medium heat until simmering, for about 2-3 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining brown sugar, salt, cornstarch, and spices until the mixture is coherent. When the pumpkin begins to simmer, take it off the heat and slowly pour the cream in the yolks while whisking. Once the cream is all incorporated, return the mixture back to the saucepan and heat it over medium heat. Continue whisking the cream until it thickens and boils, about 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the butter to incorporate. Strain the cream into a clean container. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  3. When you are ready to assemble, preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C. Line of the bottom of a 8 inch / 20 cm round cake pan with a removable bottom or spring form pan with a piece of parchment paper.
  4. Take out the chilled dough to room temperature so it is soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Dust your work surface with flour, and roll out the dough to a 9 x 17 inch / 23 x 43 cm rectangle. Make sure you flour the dough and work surface as needed, and keep turn the dough 90 degrees after each roll. Trace and cut out two 8 inch / 20 cm circles. Carefully place one circle on the bottom of the cake pan. Transfer the other onto a piece of parchment paper and place it in the fridge until you are finish filling the cake. Gather the dough scraps and roll it into a 24 inch / 61 cm rope. Roll it into a coil and transfer it onto the lined cake pan. Gently press the dough rope onto the sides and bottom edge of the pan. Cut out the excess dough, you can roll this out and cut into leaf shapes for garnish if you wish.
  5. If your pastry cream is too stiff, mix it in a bowl with wooden spoon to soften. Spread the pastry cream onto the prepared cake pan, level, and smooth the top. Take out the other dough circle from the fridge, and place it on top of the filled cake. Gently push the edges to seal in the cream. Decorate with the leaf cut-outs if desired.
  6. Brush the top of the cake with egg wash, and score a crosshatch pattern on it with a fork. Decorate with the leaf cutouts if desired. Bake it in the preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, rotating halfway, until it is golden all over the top. Cool it completely before taking out of the pan. It is best served at room temperature with whipped cream, desired. It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

This photos might be deceiving, but this dessert actually quite easy to make. The key is to handle the dough quickly before it becomes too soft. If it gets too soft, place it in the fridge to let it firm up before rolling it again. You can prepare the pastry a day or two ahead, and bake it the day you plan to serve it. This recipe is based on the Gâteau Basque recipe my upcoming book, which features a collection of home-friendly French pastry recipes. The mildly spiced pumpkin cream is so delicious with the crunchy and buttery pastry.  I think it might prefer it to the traditional pumpkin pie, since good pumpkin pies are hard to come by.

I wish you a wonderful Canadian Thanksgiving weekend! What are your traditions, and what are you especially thankful for this year?

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3 thoughts on “Pumpkin Gâteau Basque

  1. It would be helpful for those of us in the UK -and anyone who prefers accuracy in measures!- if you worked in gram weights. Conversions from volume exist but they’re as notoriously unreliable as cup measures themselves. That aside, this sounds really lovely. It would help to be able to see more than just the top-down view though. Inside, for example. A lovely twist on a beautiful, true classic. Congratulations on your book.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I personally like baking in grams over volume measurements too! Since this recipe was written for a local publication, it was done in volume because that is what most North American home bakers prefer. My book and some other recipes her on the blog has both grams and volume. The top of the cake is much more interesting and beautiful 😉

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