Well this is my third Daring Kitchen Challenge and each month has been a fun experience with desserts that I would never think I could actually make myself. Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers host and she challenged us to make Fresh Fraisiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.
Fresh Fraisiers are made with chiffon cakes layered with a creamy custard mousse and fresh fruits that are in season. Our mandatory items for the challenge was to make all of the components from scratch ( cake, pastry cream mousse and simple syrup). The finished product had to be a free-standing cake on a platter with the fresh fruits exposed along the exterior to show off our artistic abilities!
Since strawberries are in still in season here and one of the favorite fruits for the men in my house, I went with fresh strawberries for my fruit choice. The recipe seems a bit long, but all of the parts can be made ahead in stages, which is nice so you can assemble later on. So here goes!
Fresh Fraisier with Strawberries
recipe inspired by the Daring Bakers Challenge for July 2011 and Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes
The Lemon Chiffon Cake – Recipe
1 cup + 2 TB all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks ( save the whites in separate bowl)
1/3 cup + 1 TB water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract ( I used homemade)
3/4 tsp lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites ( 3 from above )
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Directions for cake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees farenheit.
Line bottom of an 8-inch spring-form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
In large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 TB of the sugar and all of the salt to the flour mixture. 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 1 minutes until very smooth.
Put the egg whites into a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until the whites are frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowing add the remaining sugar ( 3 TB ) 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 in 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 knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and remove the spring-form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Wrap cake in plastic and refrigerate up to four days.
Pastry Cream Filling Recipe
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 TB cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1 lg egg
2 TB unsalted butter
3/4 tsp gelatin
1/2 TB water
1 cup heavy cream
Directions for the Pastry Cream Filling
Pour the milk,vanilla and salt into a heavy saucepan. Place over medium-high eat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add 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. I poured the hot milk into my glass measuring cup, so that it would be easier to pour milk into the egg mixture with a steady hand.
Transfer the egg mixture to the warm pot that the milk was heated in and cook over medium heat until the custard is thick, and just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove the custard from the heat and pour the hot custard thru a fine mesh sieve/ strainer into a large mixing bowl. Push all of the custard thru the sieve. Allow the custard to cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream one piece at a time until smooth.
Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to 5 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 saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place a stainless steel bowl or glass heat proof bowl over the simmering water be sure bottom of bowl does not touch simmering water. Measure out 1/4 cup of the chilled pastry cream into the bowl that is over the simmering water and heat the cream to 120 degrees farenheit. Add the gelatin to the heated cream and whisk until smooth. remove the bowl of custard and gelatin mixture from the stove and whisk in the remaining cold pastry cream in two batches until the mixture is incorporated.
In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the 1 cup of cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream mixture with a rubber spatula.
Simple Syrup Recipe
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
Flavoring of your choice: herbs, vanilla, juice…
You may choose to flavor your simple syrup with herbs or spices, 1-2 tsp flavored extract or 4 TB fruit juice or liqueur. I chose to use 1 tsp pure vanilla extract.
Combine the water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and cool slightly. I added the vanilla at this point. If you are using fresh herbs I would add at beginning to infuse the flavors into the syrup. Transfer the syrup into a small jar, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to one month. Extra syrup can be added to your ice tea, coffee, etc.
Components – All made ahead in stages
1 baked 8-inch chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
1/3 cup simple syrup
2 pounds fresh strawberries ( or fruit of your choice)
Powdered sugar for dusting
1/2 cup almond paste (from original recipe – optional and I did not use)
Line the sides of spring form pan with plastic wrap. The recipe calls for 10-inch pan. Since I only have an 8-inch pan that is what I used. Do not line the bottom of the pan. So that my cake would be on my display cake I placed the ring of the spring form pan onto my plat without the bottom of the pan. Lined the ring with the plastic wrap.
Cut the chiffon cake in half horizontally so you have two cake layers. I placed one layer into the spring form pan ring cut side up as seen in the photo. After the point I forgot to take more pictures of the assembly as I got into the pastry cream!
Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup with a pastry brush. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge you have enough syrup in the cake.
Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan ring. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
Pipe the cream in-between the strawberries and place a thin layer across the top of the cake. I used a spoon and spatula instead of a piping bag.
Hull and quarter the rest of the berries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and cake with all but 1 tablespoon of the pastry cream.
Top with the second layer of cake, cut side down this time and moisten the cake with the simple syrup. Spread the last of the pastry cream onto the top of the cake. If you are using the almond paste, roll out of sugared counter top until the size of your cake pan and place on top of cake before wrapping the cake up. I did not use the almond paste.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I left mine overnite to have for dessert the next night. The longer the cake sets in the refrigerator the firmer the custard filling sets up. The cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To serve. Remove the spring-form ring from the cake. Carefully peel off the plastic wrap. Dust the top of the cake with the powdered sugar. Decorate top with more fresh fruit if you like or just slice and enjoy like we did.
Verdict: This recipe is great for making a beautiful cake that everyone will enjoy with any fresh fruits and you can make in stages and have completed days in advance of a special event.The taste was fantastic, like a cool creamy strawberry shortcake and the whole family gave it an A+. I can’t believe that here was just a little over 1 cup of sugar in the whole recipe.