Le Fraisier

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.

 

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Cakelaw
    June 14, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Your fraisiers are so pretty Shirley. They are indeed show stoppers for a crowd. Minis are cute but yes, they are more work. I made the whole shebang and took it to work.

  • Reply
    Mardi Michels
    June 14, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I use whole eggs in my lemon curd – so I don't see why a pastry cream might not use whole eggs. My pastry cream/ whipped cream was also really runny and would have benefited from spending some time in the fridge after they were combined. Minis might be more time consuming but I didn't trust myself with assembling a large version!

  • Reply
    Nicole
    June 14, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Despite your challenges it turns out so lovely! Nice job, and thanks for the tips when I try mine out.

  • Reply
    isthisakeeper
    June 14, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    My cream did escape like lava!! Next time I would put the cream in the fridge for a while to firm up. Yours looks beautiful…I know how hard it was to create it!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Diane Zwang
    June 14, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    I am making my cake this weekend for a party. Good to know about the pastry cream being runny, I will put it in the refrigerator until it firms up. Your dessert looks lovely including the cookies. Extra egg whites, I make Dorie's Vistidine cake from Around My French Table. She also has a cookie recipe with nuts in the same cookbook that are made with egg whites.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    June 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    I would try making whole egg pastry cream. Thanks for the tip to refrigerate the cream before filling it.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    June 14, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    I know how you feel when it comes to tackling the fillings to keep it in place. Love to know I'm not alone with the cake trouble.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    June 14, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks for your suggestions in using up the egg whites.

  • Reply
    Zosia
    June 14, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Your cakes turned out beautifully despite the issues you had. The meringue cookie garnish looks just perfect with them.

  • Reply
    Approaching Food
    June 24, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Not plain jane at all! I love the use of meringues instead of whipped cream on top. And minis! Basically, I love it all! 🙂

  • Reply
    Karen @ From Scratch
    July 2, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Beautiful little cakes! They don't give up the struggle you had assembling them.

  • Reply
    Teresa
    July 3, 2016 at 3:21 am

    They look gorgeous, even if they were a pain to assemble. And I love your tiny meringues as a decoration!

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