Practice 2020

We were recently asked whether we still did that baking thing. As you've probably gathered, we haven't for a while. But since it's time for the pre-season testing, maybe we should give it a go again. And so... cake!

The F1 testing is once again in Barcelona and so we made:
G√Ęteau Basque

Prepared in true Spanish style
Layered cake-on-custard-on-cake, make up this dense brick of a sweet treat with the odd cherry thrown in. Pleasant though it is. it could serve equally well as a doorstop.

The custard is flavoured lightly with cinnamon and lemon, while the cake is heavily fragranced with almond. With only very little baking powder, it is closer to a giant cookie in texture.

Requires more eggs than any reasonable recipe (wine diminishing)
The recipe told me it would take 20 minutes to make and 40 to bake. I think each of the four instructions took an hour, so that's a bigger quantity of my life spent on this cake than I had intended. And when the cake mixture ran out before we had completed the top layer, we had to go back to the mixing bowl to make some more.

In the 18 months since we last baked with any enthusiasm, Tally has grown up and decided that baking with Daddy is no longer so exciting and refused to help. She wasn't so reluctant to help in the eating.

Heidi loves the cake, but when offered another to slice in exchange to help me with writing the blog, it was suddenly less appealing. Tally has a distaste for custard or cherries so picked her way through the cake layers before becoming bored.
A stirring experience

Oven ready

(be careful not to drop it on your toes)

For any of you who feel inspired to copy us in this ridiculous task, here's a modified recipe (having learnt how not to do it)... Let us know if you try it.


For the custard filling
1 pint whole milk
50 + 50g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
zest of 1 lemon
6 egg yolks (six!)
40g cornflour
pinch of salt

For the cake mixture (this includes the additional volume of mixture we made to allow us to complete the assembly)
4 eggs
270g caster sugar
270g unsalted butter
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
400g plain flour

To assemble
Handfull of fresh cherries (or 70g dried cherries, soaked in cognac - not for the kids)
1 egg beaten


Make the custard
In a saucepan, mix the milk, 50g of the sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon zest. Warm gently until the milk is almost simmering. Remove from the heat and cover with clingfilm. Allow to cool and strain off the solids. Put the milk back in the saucepan and simmer.

Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 50g of sugar, add the cornstarch and salt. Add a little of the warm milk and whisk together, then add the egg mixture to the saucepan. Continue heating and whisking constantly until thick (for us this was almost instant). Pour into a bowl, cover with Clingfilm touching the surface (to prevent a skin forming) and leave to cool completely.

Make the cake mixture
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (K beater), cream the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the butter, lemon zest, salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and mix to combine but no longer. Sift the flour and baking powder. Using a spatula, gently add the flour gradually, ensuring it mixes evenly by scraping the bowl repeatedly. The mixture should be thick, not runny for piping.
Divide the batter evenly between 2 piping bags (we folded greaseproof paper for this, but I had learnt by watching my Grandad and Nanny do that in his bakery for years).

Assemble the cake
Grease a 9-inch springform cake tin with butter and greaseproof paper. Using one bag of the cake dough, pipe a spiral of the cake mixture into the bottom of the tin, and spread smooth with a knife. Top with the custard and spread evenly, but do not let is reach the sides of the tin. Sprinkle with cherries (some recipes show the cherries below the custard - you could stupidly invert it like a Cornish scone, if you wish). Use the second bag of cake mixture to spiral again covering the sides and top pf the custard. Smooth with a pallet knife. Brush with the beaten egg. Apparently, you can make markings in the top with a knife for decorations, but I didn't understand what sort of pattern was appropriate and hence didn't bother.

Leave in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F or Gas Mark 4) and place the cake on a middle shelf, baking for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and you're fed up with waiting. At this point, you might normally expect to impatiently wait for it to cool just sufficiently to be edible, but alas you must wait for it to cool to room temperature and then fridge it again! When you are convinced that the custard has re-set, then slice to serve.

Enjoy. Send us a message describing your attempt.


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