Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Fraisiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.
A Fraisier is a light, moist layered cake, split and filled with sliced strawberries and pastry cream, then topped with a thin sheet of almond paste. I’m not a huge almond paste fan, so I topped mine with white chocolate ganache instead.
The challenge required us to make a cake with exposed fruits around the sides of a center layer of pastry cream and make all the components (cake, pastry cream mousse, simple syrup) from scratch. I made an orange chiffon cake and filled the cake with strawberries and mango. I made candied kumquats and candied orange peel to add a bright orange color to the cake. I used the syrup from the candied fruit for the simple syrup to moisten the cake.
I was thrilled with the taste of this luscious dessert. It’s essentially an elegant strawberry shortcake with pastry cream instead of whipped cream and the cake is infused with the sweet, citrus flavor of the syrup. A fabulous dessert! Unfortunately, I had lots of struggles creating what I had hoped would be a masterpiece.
July was a busy month and I wasn’t able to start my Fraisier until two days before the scheduled posting day. I thought two days would give me plenty of time to do the challenge, but I under estimated the time involved. I should have made the white chocolate ganache 24 hours before I needed it so it would be nice and thick and spreadable, but of course I didn’t, so I spent an hour stirring the ganache in a bowl of ice cubes to chill it quickly.
My ganache topping was too soft and so was my filling. I used the two left over egg yolks instead of a whole egg in the pastry cream filling and the pastry cream thickened up nicely and didn’t require straining out any lumps. I probably should have added more gelatin or whipped the cream a bit more because even after 4 hours chilling my filling wasn’t firm enough to support the fruit from sliding around on the side of the cake.
Although it may be because I had the same struggle as many of the Daring Bakers with building the cake in the same spring form pan it was baked in. It shrunk a bit when it cooled so that it was hard to get it to mold tightly. In addition to shrinking in, the cake top sunk in a little bit, perhaps it needed more time to cook but the toothpick came out clean. I should have done as suggested by one of the Daring Bakers and turn it upside down to cool. Then the cake wouldn’t have sunk and I would have remember to take off the parchment.
It wasn’t until I went to serve the cake that I realized I had forgotten to take the parchment off the bottom of the cake. So I had to cut away the parchment to get a slice out of the pan making it even harder to get a pretty slice because the filling was so soft.
Yet, despite all my troubles and the fact that my cake wasn’t as gorgeous as I had envisioned, this was a great, fabulously delicious challenge. All the individual elements were scrumptious and together created a fantastic, fresh summer treat. Visit the Daring Kitchen to see all the amazingly beautiful cakes the Daring Bakers baked this month.
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (155 gm) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder (reduced 1/4 teaspoon from the original recipe for my high altitude)
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar (reduced 1 tablespoon for high altitude)
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup orange juice (increased 2 tablespoons for high altitude)
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
5 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon gelatin
1/2 tablespoon water
1 cup heavy cream
adapted from Martha Stewart
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
adapted from Kitchen Alchemy
1/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1 baked 9 inch chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
1/3 cup simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs strawberries
1 recipe white chocolate ganache
Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F.
Line the bottom of an 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, extract, and orange zest. Whisk thoroughly.
Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.
Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.
Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. (Mine wasn’t lumping and didn’t need straining.) Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.
In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
Put two inches of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
Measure 1/4 cup of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.
Heat the pastry cream until it is 120º. Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.
In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.
Using a citrus zester or vegetable peeler, shred long strips of orange peel. Slice kumquats into rounds.
Place citrus strips and kumquats in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Drain; repeat two more times with fresh water.
Place sugar in a clean saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add the citrus strips and kumquats to the boiling syrup; reduce heat, and simmer until translucent, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool in syrup, at least 1 hour. Remove from syrup when ready to use.
Put the white chocolate into a medium microwave safe bowl.
Heat the pure cream in a small saucepan or microwave safe dish until it boils. Be very careful as you do not want it to burn to the bottom of the pan, or rise up and boil over.
Pour the boiling cream evenly over the white chocolate, then begin stirring with a fork. The mixture will be lumpy and sticky – just keep going and watch as the white chocolate melts.
There will be a point where the heat is all but gone from the mixture and you feel you need a little bit more to get across the line. Place the bowl in the microwave oven for a few seconds. Then take it out and resume mixing, but this time with a whisk. Continue mixing until all lumps of chocolate are gone and you are left with a smooth, thick, viscose mixture.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside. Leave the ganache to set for 24 hours. I kid you not – if you want to avoid heartache, leave the ganache for a full day. When you return to use it, it will be thick like butter and can be used to fill a cake and cover it. Heat your palette knife under hot water and run it over the surface of the ganache to achieve a perfectly smooth look.
Line the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream.
Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar and roll out the almond paste to a 10-inch (25 cm) round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.