Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fresh Fraisier Cakes!

Fraisier Cake

A year ago I made my first fraisier, a light, moist layered cake, split and filled with sliced strawberries and pastry cream, then topped with a thin sheet of almond paste. It’s strawberry season once again at my home and I thought it would be delightful if we made a lovely French Fraisier! But it’s not strawberry season everywhere, so to be fair (and to be fun!) strawberries are optional! Let’s just see the entire lovely and exotic fruits we can put into a Fraisier’s structure for a fresh take on a French classic!
Notes: The gelatin will continue to stiffen day by day. The longer you let your finished cake sit, the firmer it will become. Also, I prefer to assemble the cake on the platter it will be displayed on, some people do not, but I recommend placing the bottom layer on the platter, then affixing the cling wrap lined spring form pan around the bottom layer. It saves the hassle of trying to move the cake after assembly.
Mandatory Items: You must make a cake with exposed fruits, edible flowers, etc. around the sides of the center layer. You must make all components (cake, pastry cream mousse, and simple syrup) from scratch. You may not make a trifle. It must be a free-standing cake on a platter.
Variations allowed: Have fun with this idea! I love creativity so feel free to mix up the strawberries for other fruits or edible flowers, freeze the mousse as an ice cream etc. Making a cake, a filling, maintaining the structure of the cake with the exposed fruits is mandatory, but the flavors and methods should be just plain fun! I am providing you with a basic chiffon cake and many alterations (lemon, orange, coconut, and chocolate) to it! You may be as creative or traditional, as you like! For the Vegan and Gluten-Free crowd I have provided links at the end to help with the portions of the recipe that will not suffice.
Preparation time: The traditional recipe I am providing can be made in stages. As a whole the recipe requires at least 4 hours of time, and 4 hours of refrigeration, BUT the cake, pastry cream and syrup can be made days ahead of assembly to help ease the time burden. Once these three are made, the cake will take about half an hour to assemble followed by 4 hours of refrigeration.
Equipment required:
●    Measuring cups and spoons for liquid and dry ingredients
●    Cutting board & knife to prepare the fruit
●    Electric mixer or stand mixer
●    Wooden spoon
●    Rolling pin
●    Plastic wrap
●    Parchment paper
●    Cooling rack
●    Serving platter of your choice
●    8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan
●    2 large mixing bowls
●    Small mixing bowl
●    Whisk
●    Rubber spatula
●    Toothpick
●    Butter knife
●    Heavy sauce pan
●    Fine mesh sieve
●    Small dish
●    2 small sauce pans
●    Small stainless steel bowl or double boiler
●    Pastry bag

Basic Chiffon Cake:
For gluten free and vegan options see the links at the end
1 c. + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ c. sugar
½ tsp. salt, preferably kosher
¼ c. vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
⅓ c. + 1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ tsp. lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to moderate 325.
Line the bottom of an 8-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, 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.
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.

Variations to the Basic Chiffon Cake:
Lemon Chiffon Cake
Ingredient Alterations:
Reduce water to ¼ c.
Add 1/8 c. lemon juice
Increase lemon zest to 1½ tsp.
Remove the vanilla from the recipe
Direction Alterations:
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
Ingredient Alterations:
Replace the full amount of water with orange juice
Replace lemon zest with the zest of one orange
Remove the vanilla from the recipe
Direction Alterations:
Follow the directions, same as above, adding the orange juice and zest to the oil, and egg yolks in step 4.
Coconut Chiffon Cake
Ingredient Alterations:
Add ¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
Reduce oil to 1/8 c.
Reduce water to 1/8 c.
Add 1/3 c. unsweetened coconut milk
Remove the vanilla from the recipe
Direction Alterations:
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
Ingredient Alterations:
Reduce all-purpose flour to ¾ c. + 1 tbsp.
Add ¼ c. cocoa powder
Direction Alterations:
Follow the directions; same as above, adding the cocoa to the flour mixture in step 3.
Pastry Cream Filling:
Gluten Free! Vegans see the links at the end!
1 c. whole milk
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt, preferably kosher
2 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ c. sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ tsp. gelatin
½ tbsp. water
1 c. heavy cream
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. 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 ¼ 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 cream until it is temp at 120. 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:
Gluten free and vegan!
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 of fruit juice or liqueur while the syrup is cooling.
1/3 c. of sugar flavored or white
1/3 c. of water
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 one month.
Fraisier Assembly:
1 baked 8 inch chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
⅓ c. Simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs. strawberries
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ c. almond paste
Line the sides of an 8-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. 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 round 1/16 inch thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon 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.

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