Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a Fresh Fraisier, inspired by the recipe from Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson published in their beautiful cookbook Tartine. Fraisier, derived from the word fraise, is a classic French cake made with a basic génoise, which is sliced in two halves and brushed with liqueur. The cake is then filled with buttercream and fresh strawberries and topped with almond paste or Italian meringue. Although this dessert originally uses strawberries as its chief ingredient, I chose to make a raspberry & blackberry duo from the gorgeous punnet I bought yesterday.

It took me a little over 24 hours to complete this dessert as there were so many steps involved especially when it came to the pastry cream filling. Initially it was so runny that I was sure it would not set but it turned out fine after I let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. The chiffon cake was another story; must be one of the best I’ve tried till date. Moist enough on its own, without the much hated ‘eggy’ taste of store bought ones, the recipe for this basic chiffon cake is flexible enough to accommodate your whims – from the simple, unadorned lemon flavour to the rich and decadent chocolate chiffon.

BASIC CHIFFON CAKE

 

Ingredients:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder

3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar

1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher

1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil

3 large egg yolks

⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water

1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) lemon zest, grated

5 large egg whites

¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
  • Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) 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 (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon 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 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 ⅓ 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.

 

  • Remove 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.

 

Variations to the Basic Chiffon Cake

>> Lemon Chiffon Cake
Reduce water to 1/4 cup (60 ml) and add 1/8 cup (30 ml) lemon juice. Increase lemon zest to 1½ tsp (7½ ml) (5 gm), remove the vanilla from the recipe. Follow the directions, same as above, adding the lemon juice and zest to the oil, egg yolks and water in step 4.

>> Orange Chiffon Cake
Replace the full amount of water with orange juice. Replace lemon zest with the zest of 1 orange. Remove the vanilla from the recipe. Follow the directions, same as above, adding the orange juice and zest to the oil, and egg yolks in step 4.

>> Coconut Chiffon Cake
Add ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) freshly ground nutmeg and reduce oil to 1/8 cup (1 fl oz/30ml). Reduce water to 1/8 cup (1 fl oz/30ml). Add 1/3 cup (2 ⅔fl oz/80 ml) unsweetened coconut milk. Remove the vanilla from the recipe. Follow the directions, same as above, adding the nutmeg to the flour mixture in step 3, and the coconut milk to the oil, water and egg yolks in step 4.

>> Chocolate Chiffon Cake
Reduce all-purpose flour to ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (195 ml) (4 oz/110 g). Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) (3/4 oz/20 g) cocoa powder.
Follow the directions, same as above, adding the cocoa to the flour mixture in step 3.

PASTRY CREAM FILLING

 

Ingredients:

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) whole milk

1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) (¼ gm) salt, preferably kosher

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm) cornstarch

1/4 cup (60 ml) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) unsalted butter

3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (4 gm) gelatin

1/2 tablespoon (7½ ml) water

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) heavy cream

Method:

  • 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 egg 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.
  • 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 (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.

  • Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) 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 cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). 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 cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

SIMPLE SYRUP

Ingredients:

1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white

1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water

Method:

  • Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve.
  • Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
  • Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to 1 month.
  • You may choose to flavor the syrup. One way is to use flavored sugar (for example: apple cider sugar, orange sugar, or vanilla sugar) or to stir in 1-2 teaspoons of flavored extract. You may also infuse with herbs or spices, if desired or add four tablespoons (60 ml) of fruit juice or liqueur while the syrup is cooling.

FRAISIER ASSEMBLY

Components:

1 baked 8 inch (20 cm) chiffon cake

1 recipe pastry cream filling

⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup

2 lbs (900 g) strawberries

confectioners’ sugar for dusting

½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste

Method:

  • Line the sides of a 10-inch (25 cm) 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 tbs (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake. 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.

 

Thank you Jana for this delicious challenge!

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