Basque Chicken & Cake


Chicken Basquaise is a typical Basque dish, cooked in ‘piperade‘ sauce.  It comes from the Basque word ‘biperra’ meaning chili.  The piperade sauce is composed of onions, garlic, chilis, Bayonne ham, tomatoes and olive oil.  Since fresh chilis (piments doux) aren’t always in season, they can be replaced by peppers and piment d’Espelette instead.


I have an admiration for Basque cuisine, so full of flavors, rich in colors, highly influenced by the taste of Gascony, Bearn and Spain. The vibrant dishes have such body and character, no wonder so many of my favourite chefs are of Basque origins.  The cuisine is all about generosity and happiness, respecting the natural flavors of the ingredients, themes that match my culinary mind.


Chicken Basquaise is one of those meals I often cook for my family.  We all love it and the kids appreciate the spicy touch, that’s why I always add that extra dose of piment d’Espelette.  Accompanied with red Camargue rice (you can also use Thai red rice), the explosion of colors make this dish exciting and delicious.  Just like ‘blanquette de veau’, poulet Basquaise is a basic staple dish in my household.  Simple, easy and so healthy.  Embellished with the piment d’Espellete, this is a dish that will awaken your senses!



To keep the Basque theme going, I decided to make the emblematic  ‘Basque cake’ (gâteau Basque).  This is a dessert I always look forward to order in a good bistrot.  There are so many versions, but I like the traditional one best, with a discreet rum and vanilla cream filling.  I have to say, it is so good you will want to make it again.  My daughter Louise said it reminded her of a canelé, but creamier.  I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.  It’s a great way to end any meal, so perfect with the last sip of wine or the first sip of coffee.


Poulet Basquaise recipe: (serves 4-6)

1 good-quality chicken (cut in pieces), or 3-4 chicken legs and 4 small drumsticks (perfect for kids)
2 medium-sized red pepper
1 medium-sized green pepper
2 onions (sliced)
4 garlic cloves (finely sliced)
230 g/ 1/2 pound Bayonne ham (you can use pancetta), diced
6 tomatoes, (in France, I recommend ‘coeur de boeuf’ tomatoes, peeled and chopped
120 ml/1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 tbsp tomato paste concentrate
Olive oil
Salt & black pepper
1-2 tsp piment d’Espelette (if you can’t find this, try hot paprika instead)

Bring a pot of salted water to boil, add the tomatoes for 15-20 seconds.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Peel tomatoes and chop coarsely.  Set aside.

Deseed peppers, cut into halves.  Place skin-side up on a baking sheet and grill in oven on high, until it blisters.  Place the hot peppers in a ziplock bag and leave to cool.  Peel the skin and set aside.

In a large pot, heat olive oil and fry garlic for 2 minutes, followed by the Bayonne ham for 2 minutes, then the onions for 5 minutes.  Add the peeled peppers, fry for 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, piment d’espellette and 1 tbsp of tomato paste.  Add 2 bay leaves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, season with salt and pepper.  Cover and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse and pat chicken dry with kitchen towel.  Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and fry until golden brown on each side.  Set aside.

Add the chicken and wine to the sauce, cover and cook for a further 30 minutes on a very low heat.

Cook for a further 10 minutes on a medium to high heat uncovered so the sauce reduces and thickens.  You can adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and piment d’Espelette.

Serve with red rice, (other suggestions are rice pilaf, couscous/ semoule or steamed potatoes).


Gâteau Basque recipe

For the cake batter

400 g/ 3 & 3/4 cups plain flour, sifted
200 g/ 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 egg yolks and 2 eggs
200 g/ 1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp fine salt
1 tsp baking powder (levure chimique)

For the cream filling

500 ml/ 1 pint full cream milk
1 egg and two egg yolk
2 tbsp dark rum
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
100 g/ 1/2 cup granulated sugar
50 g/ 8 tbsp plain flour, sifted

1 egg yolk
1 pinch of salt

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.

For the cake batter

In a large bowl, mix the sugar and butter (cut into small chunks).  Gradually add the egg yolks and eggs until the batter becomes smooth.  Add the sifted flour, salt and baking powder, mix well until dough is soft.  Divide dough in two balls, wrap in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

Prepare the cream filling. In a saucepan, bring the milk to soft boil with the vanilla seeds. Add the sugar, whisk for 30 seconds. Add the sifted flour gently, whisking away to avoid any lumps for 2 minutes. You can take the saucepan on and off the heat a few times. Add the egg and yolks, one at a time, whisking away until the cream has thickened, about 2-3 minutes (low heat). Take off the heat. Finally, add the rum and mix well. Set aside to cool completely.

When ready, roll two discs (1.5 cm/ 0.5 inch thick approx) to fit your cake pan – one base, slightly larger and one cover, slightly smaller on a floured surface (I always roll pastry on floured parchment paper).

Butter and dust the cake pan with flour, line the base with the larger disc leaving a 2 cm/ 0.7 inch overhang.  Pour the cream filling in the cake, cover with the second smaller disc.  Brush edges with eggwash, press and seal both discs.  Brush cover with egg wash, then use a fork to draw lines on the cake (see photos). Make 3-4 tiny incisions with the tip of a sharp knife on the cover (so the cake won’t puff up). Bake in a preheated oven 180°C/ 350°F for 30 minutes.

46 thoughts on “Basque Chicken & Cake

  1. How much flour for the pastry?? Am I reading the recipe correctly – I can’t see flour listed as an ingredient.

  2. I think I’d like to try this for dinner with my Mother-in-law tomorrow, but I have one question: is full cream milk the same thing as whole milk?

  3. Bonjour Mimi, You couldn’t have picked a better time to post this recipe with all the gorgeous tomatoes and peppers coming into the market here.I love how you’ve served Carmargue Red Rice with this dish. Memories of buying some at a road side stall outside of Aigues Mortes after a wonderful day discovering the area. Interesting… the markings on the Basque Cake….the lines across the surface of the pastry. I’ve seen these lines on a Breton Cake and find it fascinating that its done again in a region on the otherside of France. What a wonderful feast you had after preparing this delighful dinner!!!! Bonne journee. Anita xx

    1. Bonjour Anita! Thank you! The red Camargue rice adds even more colours to this delicious dish – I also love the firmness of the rice. My kids love to have couscous semoule with it. And the cake – oh my – so so good. You must try. I had a bit of extra pastry and cream so I made two extra small cakes – there’s always someone who wants more in my house! Enjoy and have a lovely week-end! Mimix

  4. This looks delicious and I will make it this afternoon! I doubt two of us will manage to get through it all in one day – what is the best way to store it? In the fridge or room temp?

    1. Bonsoir! It depends on the temperature of your kitchen. I usually store the dish covered in my pantry – it’s very cool in there. If you want to play it safe just store it in the fridge. This meal makes wonderful leftovers. I had couscous semoule and served it with the rest of the sauce along with a couple of hard boiled eggs. Enjoy! Mimix

  5. Mimi, going to make your Basque Cake for the Easter Sunday table. All those delicious eggs you’ve used…a perfect symbol for this season. Amazing about cake, you can never make enough…with children, friends and neighbours popping bu. If they are not hungry, they’ll ask to take a slice home to have later. We will enjoy Mimi. Bon Weekend. Anita xx

  6. Chère Mimi…
    Je ne peux pas m’arrêter de faire votre cuisine !
    Chaque article m’apporte une nouvelle recette, une nouvelle découverte, une nouvelle expérience!

  7. Good morning, Mimi.
    Both the chicken and the cake sound delicious. I have made a list of what to buy for chicken today and the cake is going to be for Catholic Easter Sunday (we do both Easters, Catholic for my husband and Russian Orthodox for me and my son which falls on May 5th this year).
    Yesterday I made your scones. They are the best! Very easy to make too. The only thing … next time I make them I’m going to triple the ingredients 🙂 Have a lovely Sunday.

  8. Oh, so good!! The chicken Basque brings back memories of living in the Spanish Basque Country and the wonderful food, especially the fish and sauces. Thank you for the recipes–will try.

  9. Hello Mimi,
    This menu looks and sounds scrumptious! Concerning the cake, what type/size cake pan should I use? Thank you!

    1. Bonjour! Thank you for visiting Manger! My cake pan is 22 cm (8.6 inches). if you have extra dough and cream, you can use mini tartlets paans and make an extra 2 or 3. I hope this helps. Mimix

  10. Mimi, you make plucking chickens look so glam and organic, love it. We make a similar Spanish recipe,the difference is it uses only red peppers, paprika and no wine. It’s called Pollo a la Chilindron.

  11. Greetings from Tokyo! Love your recipe Momi and I watched you on Mr Porter, you look so beautiful and so elegant xo. Your recipe looks delicious, I have to try it when I am back home.
    Loving Tokyo so much 5 days passed so fast 5 more days, Love it.

  12. Hello, Mimi!

    I’ve been a reader of Manger for some time now and I finally feel it proper to leave some correspondence for you with some of my own writing to stand behind my name rather than being a mystery face! You have inspired me so much to delve into the beauty of food and cooking in traditional ways. I feel that I am learning so much whenever I make a visit to Manger and it is so refreshing to peek in on someone living such a passionate life. The images here are so rich and inviting and one can tell from how you write and display your dishes you truly cook and create from the heart.

    Thank you for showing us all that you do!

    Warm regards,


    1. Dearest Emma! Thank you so much for sharing such kind words! So happy to hear I have inspired you to cook, hopefully you have enjoyed a few good meals through this blog. It really warms my heart to share my passion, and most of all getting to know my readers. Merci from all my heart for such encouraging words! Mimix

  13. OH my gosh I just found your blog. I am so in love. You are beautiful, the images are beautiful, your family etc. wow I have just moved from Hawaii to Sweden to kind of do the same thing with my in the country. I am just starting to cook. I have never been a cook as in America we eat out so much (horrible). Plus there is no box stuff here in Sweden. Its been a new adventure for me for sure. Hoping to make some of your lovely stuff.

    1. Thank you so much Christy! It must be quite a hange of scene between Hawai and Sweden. Congrats on your new life – I hope you will embrace it with all its splendour! I hope some of my recipes will inspire you to cook – all the meals I share are all loved by my family – to be shared with love and happiness! Happy Easter! Mimix

  14. I made this cake two days ago and all loved it–the texture was very different from north American style ‘cakes’, but reminded me of various more shortbread type sweets. I was worried the filling was lumping up when on the stove, yet any lumps baked out. It would be wonderful to see a tutorial on rolling and fitting the dough into the dish and how to seal it without too much excess. For me, doughs are tricky…and I wasn’t sure if it came out to thick on the edges. Thanks for all the inspiration, seriously!

      1. I’m making the cake this morning and have just put the dough in the fridge. I’m a bit terrified as my dough is so sticky I don’t know how I will manage rolling it up. Maybe after cooling it wouldn’t be so sticky? It looks lovely though, and I like the texture of it if not so sticky. As Valerie has mentioned already I would love a tutorial on this cake too.
        Happy holidays!

        1. Bonjour Irina! Wishing you a happy Easter with your family. Concerning the dough, whenever I find it slightly sticky, instead of adding a bit more flour I put the wrapped dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes (or a bit more) so it will ‘harden’ faster. I hope your cake turned out beautiful! Fingers crossed! Have a lovely day Irina – thinking of you from Médoc! Mimixx

          1. Thank you, Mimi! The cake turned out nice. But I need a bigger pan (mine is 20 cm) for next time. My other mistake was that I didn’t wait till it completely cooled down. I cut it while still pretty warm and the cream started leaking out. Not to worry though, half of the cake is gone 🙂

  15. In the Basque Country most of us make our Bipera Sauce in the summer when tomatoes and long green peppers are plentiful. We NEVER use Bell peppers, red or green. Some people will add crushed piment d’Espelette, which is AOC, but is basically the LONG green pepper left out too long in the fall for harvesting and hanging to dry. The majority of us have gardens that prepare us sufficient stock to do the preserving when the quantities are abundant. This is also a delicious sauce to poach an egg in (which was the original Piperade) and of course, simmer leftover chicken as our farm hens are huge…Poulet Basquaise.

  16. I am an certainly a roast chicken enthusiast. I am so looking forward to trying this in my weekly meal rotation. Just Beautiful!


  17. You read my mind, Mimi. I think these rustic Basque dishes are perfect for the cold spell we’re having here in the UK! I’ve been wanting to make gateau Basque for a while, but always thought it would be very complicated. Thank you so much for these lovely recipes.

  18. Mimi,
    I made your Gateau Basque on Easter Sunday…oh my goodness, it was just delicious! Creamy and not too sweet, it was the perfect ending to our feast. Thank you so much and I cannot wait to make more of your wonderful recipes

  19. This Gateau Basque of yours has been doing cartwheels in my mind for weeks since I first cut out your recipe from a magazine. It sounds like a luscious variation on an Armenian pastry we have called Gata. I cannot wait to taste it, hopefully this w/end!

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  21. I was browsing your recipe archives and stumbled upon this one! So glad that you have a traditional gateau Basque cake on your blog! I have made these many times in France, and I am preparing this recipe tomorrow! Merci beaucoup!

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