Make the pastry for the base: whizz the
flour, almonds, butter and sugar in a food
processor to fine crumbs. Add the egg
yolk (reserve the white for later) and a
few drops of water if necessary, then
pulse until the dough comes together.
Wrap in cling film, then chill for 1 hr.
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
Roll out pastry on a large square of baking
parchment, then trim to a 26cm round
using a cake tin or plate as a guide.
Carefully transfer the pastry still on the
paper to a large baking sheet. Bake for
12-15 mins until golden. Cool on the
paper, then transfer to a large, flat serving
plate. Can be made 2 days ahead.
To make the choux pastry, line a large
baking sheet with baking parchment.
Heat the butter in a pan with 125ml water
until melted, then increase heat until
boiling. Remove from the heat, then add
the flour in one go, quickly stirring until
everything comes together as a thick
paste. Leave to cool for 10 mins. Beat the
eggs in to the paste, using a wooden
spoon, a little at a time, until you have a
thick, glossy mixture. Spoon 12 equal-size
blobs of choux, a little apart, over the
baking sheet. Lightly whisk the reserved
egg white, then brush over each blob of
pastry. Sprinkle with flaked almonds.
Bake the buns for 25-30 mins until
crisp and golden. Remove from the oven,
carefully split each bun, then return to
the oven for 5 mins more to dry out the
insides. Cool on a rack, then scoop out
any soft insides. Can be made 2 days
ahead – if they go soft, briefly crisp them
up in the oven.
To make the filling, mix the custard
powder and sugar in a pan, then blend
in a little milk to a smooth paste. Add the
rest of the milk, then gently bring to
the boil, stirring, until you have a thick
custard. Remove from the heat, then stir
in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl, then
cover the surface with cling film. Cool.
Can be made 2 days ahead.
Now assemble the gâteau: stir the
custard to loosen a little. Whip the cream
to soft peaks, then fold into the custard.
Slice a third of the strawberries. Spread
a thin layer of custard over the pastry
base. Add the sliced strawberries to
the remaining custard, then use to fill the
choux buns. Arrange buns around edge
of the pastry base. Spoon any remaining
custard into the centre, then top with
the remaining strawberries.
To make the caramel, tip the caster
sugar into a heavy based pan with 2 tbsp
cold water. Heat, without stirring, to
dissolve the sugar, tipping the pan if
necessary, then boil hard until it becomes
a light caramel. Remove from the heat
and, when the bubbles subside, drizzle
carefully over the choux buns. Dust with
icing sugar and serve. The gâteau can
be chilled for up to 2 hrs before serving.