Hi, just to check, that is 1 pound of butter and 1 pound of sugar only for the crust of the cake? i’m used to seeing measurements more in the range of half that for a cake of this size…. so, it really is 2 pounds total of butter and sugar then, just for the crust?
I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only person on earth who asks to look at the dessert menu first so I can plan my meal around it. I’ve gotten some weird looks, but who cares. Dessert is the most important part of the meal!
Yes! I’m looking forward to more glory for pastry chefs. I grew up in a family that decidedly did not order dessert, so in my adulthood I’ve rebelled and order dessert (for myself and sometimes for others if they’re being shy), and when I’m eating at home, I always make dessert. We have one short life! Why not dessert!
This cake looks like a whole new level to an angel food cake meets pound cake. I can’t wait to try it!
Carol!- Thanks! Yes, that step was missing- sorry, I saved the wrong draft. Are there additional steps missing? Am I missing what else is missing? I hope not! Thanks for catching that before anyone got baking. : )
Question about the building of the cake… I can’t tell from the photo/illustration, is there a layer of batter underneath that layer of pastry cream in addition to a second layer of batter along the perimeter? Or, with the pastry cream indicator, are you pointing out where the pastry cream should be placed (in one of those troughs between where the rings of batter line up)? I can’t visualize how you did that with the trough description.
Hi Matt- Yes, the pastry cream is surrounded by batter. You start (bottom) with an inch(ish) thick layer of batter, as indicated. The layer photographed is the second/middle layer (though they look similar, if you look more closely the ring at the edge is batter and all of the rings in the middle of that layer are pastry cream). The third/top layer is the same as the first–just batter.
Tim, I cannot thank you enough! I am so obsessed with Basque Cake that I’ve scoured the internet for recipes and even wrote into Bon Appetit to see if they’d publish Amanda’s excellent recipe from the Bristol.
For those looking to chomp, Floriole’s is pretty darn delicious, too! Let the baking begin!
Hey Deena! Yes, butbutbutbutbut you’re only actually using a fraction of that pastry cream. I would guess only 6-8 yolks actually make it into the cake. And you may think your favorite basque cake has almond paste, but that is only because you haven’t had one that Amanda made. ; )
So glad Matt asked about assembling the cake — I get it, now! I’ll be tackling this tomorrow after I get a piping bag and a tip … Love your blog! I bought the Hoosier Mama and Four & Twenty Blackbirds books after reading your entries. They are perfect in every way (kinda like your blog!)
Hi Lauren- I’m not sure, I didn’t test this in 4-inch pans. There are too many variables for me to be able to offer accurate cooking times for other sizes of pans. In addition to the smaller diameter, I assume your pans are not 3-inches tall, so the height will also be different. You’re going to need to experiment to figure out best practices for your pans. I would start by setting timer for 30-35 minutes and then check every 5 minutes after that? Also, you’re probably only going to be able to use a very thin layer of pastry cream, assuming your pan height is closer to 2-inches. It’s definitely not a fool-proof recipe, so it’s going to require some experimentation. Good luck!
I’m another one who asks to hear the desserts before placing my dinner order. And, while I love desserts, if the offering doesn’t sound interesting, I pass on dessert rather than eating something that just wasn’t worth it. … This recipe looks and sounds delicious.
Hi, I just love your food blog :)
Is English cup and U.S. cup away?
First portion of water: 1 1/3 cups (11 ounces) of water to 68 ° F (cool tap water)
I wonder if it is 20 degrees cold water!
Second portion of water 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) of water to 68 ° F
I reckon it’s 20 degrees cold water! the same as above!
sorry I’m not so good at English, hoping di understand what I mean :)))
Hey Tim, just wanted to say this was a really great post. I agree with you completely about dessert – it’s a little sad how I’m probably in the minority by thinking dessert is as essential to a meal as the right drink or good sides. Haha, and I loved your “are they ill?” comment.
And great-looking treat you’ve got here, can’t wait to try it out. You definitely sold me on Amanda Rockman.
I can NOT believe you have this recipe! We ate at the Bristol last summer and I had this cake for dessert. I was insanely over the top delicious! I asked for the recipe with no luck. I have actually been considering contacting you to see if you could get it! When we got home I started searching for recipes online and made one of them. It just wasn’t the same. My husband, seeing my disappointment, said “you didn’t really expect to get it right the first time did you?” Of course I did! Thank you, thank you for this! Yesterday our connecting plane in Atlanta was boarding as we landed; right next to our arrival gate and we made our connection. Today, you have given me a coveted recipe. I need to play the lotto, that’s how lucky I feel!
This cake — minus the pastry cream — sounds as if it might be what my grandmother made many years ago. She called it Butter Cake and it was amazing. Soft buttery cake inside, salty, crusty crunchy top. She was a “plain cook,” so I doubt she would ever have taken the time to make the pastry cream (although she did make her own strudel.) Do you think the batter could be baked just as a cake by itself? Has anyone tried?
I’m visiting my sister in Germany, and we have this in the oven right now! It’s looking very promising, but we’re not sure how to tell when it’s done. We swapped some cocoa powder for flour and used chocolate pastry cream, so. It’s hoarded to go by color. It’s still quite a bit wobbly, but I assume it will be because of the pastry cream. Any thoughts or tips would be appreciated.
I just made this last night! So amazing and delicious. For anyone who only has a 9 in. springform pan (*ahem* me), a half batch of the pastry cream with all of the cake batter. I know Tim says you might not need all of it, but in the big pan, it’s just the right amount. The whole thing rose up to just under the lip of the pan, and after 70ish minutes it was good to go.
I also put a drop (literally a DROP) of lemon extract in the cake batter, and I really love the subtle lemon aroma with all the vanilla flavor.
I have one of these in the oven right now! I almost ran out of batter for the top layer, maybe my first layer was too thick. It’s been in the oven for 75min and still wobbly so I’m going to keep baking until it’s done.
I’ve made this cake twice now (the pastry cream recipe probably yields enough for at least one more…), but I’ve had a bit of trouble with the cake collapsing on me both times. By the time the first cake cooled, it looked like someone had stepped in it! I suspect that I just need to bake the cake for longer. I thought 80 minutes would be long enough, but I will try for longer next time. The middle of the cake did have a slight wobble… But everyone loved the cake. Multiple people told me it was the best cake they’d ever had!
Thanks for checking in, Katie! I made this 3 times when I was testing it. The first time I had some structural problems. The other two times I was okay, but was very careful about the creaming of the butter and sugar and let it bake long, until there was no more jiggle. All of that said, I suspect we’d all have an easier time with the recipe if we were to bake smaller, individual cakes. I just haven’t gotten around to testing those yet. I really want to try in a muffin or popover tin. I think the main issues will be making sure they don’t stick. It just has so much butter that the structure is a little unstable so any little variable that is off can cause trouble. But yeah, even the cakes with issues are amazing!
Thank you so much for this gift!! I had this cake at The Bristol two years ago on the hottest summer vacation of my life. She served it with a champagne sabayon and fresh strawberries. I’ve been thinking of it ever since.
Hi Tim! I recently realized that you AND my sister share an undying love of shortbread. Her birthday’s coming up, and I’m hoping to bake her something that marries her love of buttery, not-too-sweet desserts and cake. Do you think this cake fits the bill? It sounds pretty extraordinary. Thanks for your help!
I was invited to The Bristol for dinner last Saturday. The basque cake was one of our desserts. I took one bite and said, “I have to have this recipe!” And look what I find on my first search! Thank you so much!
First, I love this cake at the Bristol. It’s so amazing, words cannot do it justice. Period. Best dessert in Chicago.
So, I bake a bit, not professional or anything but I know my way around the kitchen. I also make a lot of ice cream, so the concept of the pastry cream was not intimidating to me. With that said, I tried to stay super organized but it did not come together.
I had problems getting the pastry cream thick enough. Are you supposed to pipe it out cold?
Second, the cake piece was a total mess. I used a zip lock bag to pipe out the batter and a hole opened midway thru the bag and I had batter going all over. It was delicious, the raw batter, but was tough to get it right in the pan.
I cooked it for a little over an hour and a half and gave up. I let it cool for about a half hour, I couldn’t wait anymore, and the middle oozed pastry cream. Not sure what went wrong, but it was delicious. A little too dark, but delicious.
Not sure what went wrong, maybe too much going on and I need to have it a bit more together, but I will definitely try it again.
Thanks for checking in. It’s a tough recipe for home bakers, for a variety of reasons. It’s kind of a proceed at your own risk cake. I know the recipe works, I’ve made it successfully a couple of times, and I know of a couple of others who have. But I also had a major fail, still delicious, but a fail. I haven’t yet tried it in a muffin tin or similar small pans to make individual cakes, which I suspect will be easier to control.
Hi! I tried this for the very first time tonight and it was an absolute success! I thought the instructions would be a bit difficult to follow but as i was making it became easier. The texture of the cake is perfect, but perhaps the taste is a bit too sweet for me. A small slice with a glass of milk i
I made this on Monday and it turned out phenomenally well — I can’t thank you enough for tracking down the recipe. I was at Nico and didn’t plan on ordering the cake, because it just sounds like a fairly standard cake, but it was my birthday and they brought one out on the house and we could not stop raving about it. I still think about it. But now I can make it! I brought this to work yesterday and everyone absolutely loved it.
A few notes just based on my experience:
– I used four, mini 4.75″ springform pans instead of one large one. They weren’t very tall, so I wrapped them in parchment sleeves, which worked great. I had the exact right amount of cake batter, and used about half of the pastry cream, I would say.
– They still took a really long time to bake — about 55 minutes. I kept checking and checking but it still wasn’t getting that dark brown color, but I was naturally getting worried it was drying out. But I needn’t have worried — like Tim said, there is so much fat and liquid in this cake there is little chance of it drying out. I probably could have left them in for another 30 minutes and they still would have been moist.
– They definitely leaked a good amount of liquid — I put them on a pan, and would probably wrap them in aluminum foil in the future.
– My apartment was very cold so the batter was pretty stiff, but I simply kneaded it in the pastry bag and warmed it up a bit. I used a wet finger to smooth the dough out, both on the bottom and top, which worked perfectly.
– Honestly, if you are thinking about making this, make it. It’s amazingly fantastic — equally simple and complex, and everyone will rave about it. It’s really not as hard as it looks — you are just making two batters, and piping simply requires confidence. I can imagine this recipe is very forgiving — it’s probably going to be delicious no matter what happens.
Good lord, how did I miss this amazing post? I came to it from your “flex in Texas” post about Amanda Rockman leaving Chicago. Sounds like it’s time to give her some room to lite in Austin and then make a run down there since I missed her in Chicago. Puhhhlease, keep ’em coming!
I made this cake about two weeks ago after trying it at Nico Osteria just before Amanda left. There is truly nothing in the world as good as this cake. Nothing. Because I was making use of a friend’s convection oven and wanted to leave her some cake as a gift, I made two 6″ cakes. I bought 3″ tall pans with removable bottoms instead of springform pans (which are very hard to find in a deep 6″ size). I still wrapped the outsides in tin foil just to be safe, which turned out to be good because even though batter did not leak, butter did.
The amount of batter and pastry cream was enough for the two 6″ cakes as well as 6 tiny cupcakes we made with the extra. I was nervous about the cooking time because I’d screwed so much with the size of the pans, but I reached out to Amanda via Twitter and she suggested starting with 30 minutes and then checking periodically thereafter. I’d say the cupcakes came out after about 45 minutes, and the cakes stayed in well over an hour before they were done. It is difficult to burn this cake – the cupcakes were pretty brown and crispy around the edges and you know what? That crispy caramelized part was the best of all.
Audrey- Thanks so much for writing. So useful to know all of that about pan sizes. I have been meaning to try a cupcake-sized version of these and I am glad to hear they worked. It really is one of the best things ever.
The only other note I would add about doing cupcakes – be sure to use the foil-lined baking cups because the butter soaks right through the paper ones. Also, we filled the cups about 3/4 and they still overflowed all over the place. Probably would be better to only fill them 1/2.
This dessert instantly took me back to my childhood. I was visiting Chicago last September with my book club ladies from Calgary. We had an amazing time! I still think about the meal and atmosphere at Nico. But the cake was so similar to one my mother made from Denmark, I almost started to cry. I said please pass on the recipe and I was directed to this site. I haven’t tried to make it yet, as I’m not an experienced baker or cook at all, but I hope to block off a Saturday or Sunday soon and give it a try!
I want to make this recipe but when I convert the ingredients from ounces to cups I get the following:
16 ounces butter + 2 cups
16 ounces sugar = 2.3 cups
13 ounces flour + 3.69 cups
That would create way too much batter for an eight inch pan. What am I doing wrong?
Hey Charles- As explained in the recipe, you probably won’t use it all. Though keep in mind you’re going pretty high in the pan so you need more than a typical 8-inch cake. Tough to convert recipes from restaurants in an easy way given all of the variables. You can use the leftover batter to make a mini-version of the cake, if you like.
Made this for a birthday celebration at work. The birthday girl wanted something “vanilla”….this cake was perfection! Everyone loved it….so am making again for Thanksgiving. Thank you for the lovely recipe – its one of the best things I’ve ever made and really not that difficult.