Another fancy cake from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi (page 103) is a challenge I can’t resist. Le Fraisier is the French cake that celebrates the fruit. This is a good looking cake, not unlike the tarte Tropezienne we made a few weeks ago at Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD). Fancy cakes turn heads and draw your attention. I can see why special occasions call for fanciful cakes. This is what bakers at TWD are making this week. I should know how to make one, I tell myself, even though I don’t make cakes like these ever.
Since I don’t have the rose syrup or the extract, my fraisier would just have to be a plain Jane version.
The recipe makes a 9-inch layered yogurt cake. I split the batter and made two mini cakes. I can always give away one of them so I don’t end up eating all of them. Instead of putting more whipped cream on top, like what Dorie did, I took a minimalist approach. I decorated the cakes with a single sliced strawberry and some mini meringue cookies on top. I did follow Dorie recipe and made a glaze with jelly; I used peach and brushed it lightly on the top cake layer.
Making a good amount of pastry cream lately had left me with an excess supply of egg whites. I took care of that by whipping up some egg whites, mixed with some dissolved confectioners’ sugar (or what is known as a Swiss meringue), and made a big batch of cute and decorative meringue cookies that would go with anything. Or just eat them like candies.
I did not realize making a mini cake was just as time consuming and tricky as making a 9-inch cake. Making two minis was doubling the work. It did not get easier. It felt like a high-wire act trying to stabilize the strawberries halves on the outside, like a line of solders, and to fill in the wobbly diplomat cream (a mixture of pastry cream, whipped cream and gelatin) everywhere in between the cake layers. The strawberries and the filling threatened to slide away like lava. I ended up with a leaning, bulging and unruly strawberry layer. Gravity was pulling the strawberries away from their posts. The cream seemed too light and fluid to glue all the strawberries in place. Can’t tell what has gone wrong. Or just my inexperience? Or is the process flawed? A larger cake and smaller strawberry pieces may have been easier to keep the mid section from spilling out, at least there are more room for the filling to hang out instead of going over the edge.
Tips and advice from other bakers at TWD are invaluable. Check the other posts before attempting to make this cake. I’d have adverted some of the pitfalls if I knew what I was getting myself into.
I also wonder whether there is a pastry cream recipe out there that uses the whole egg instead of just the yoke. There are still more egg whites around to dispose of.