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.
Can you believe that I have never made a layered cake? Ever. Until this month. When I saw the Daring Baker’s challenge, I was really excited to challenge my self. My impatience in the kitchen tends to ruin big projects like this, so I vowed to myself that I would be totally patient and follow the instructions exactly, because I did not want the cake to fall apart after I built it. And I succeeded!!!!! And you can too! The steps to this cake are actually pretty easy, there are just a lot of them. So make the cake one day. Make the cream the next day. Make the simple syrup the day after that. And take a fourth day to assemble it.
I only had one little moment of impatience. I picked the top layer off the cake and ate it. I couldn’t wait to see what the cake tasted like and I knew the top would be covered in whipped cream, anyway.
Speaking of cream… I have a story for you. So, I spent quite awhile making the perfect pastry cream filling for this cake. Then I tasted it (thank goodness) and I smelled it and it just didn’t seem right. It tasted almost like I had put 1/2 C. of lemon juice in the cream. It was not the decadent pastry cream I was hopping for. Then I checked my container of heavy cream. Sure, enough it was SOUR. So I threw it in the trash, went to the store and bought more cream, and started all over again. Much better the second time! Word to the wise: check your cream before starting the pastry cream.
Basic Chiffon Cake:
- 1 C + 2 TBSP. flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 C. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 C. veg. oil
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 C. 1 TBSP. water
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 tsp. lemon zest, grated
- 5 large egg whites
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Lemon Chiffon Cake: reduce water to 1/4 C., add 1/8 C. lemon juice to egg yolks, increase lemon zest to 1 1/2 tsp., and remove the vanilla.
Orange Chiffon Cake: Replace the full amount of water with orange juice, replace lemon zest with the zest of one orange, and remove vanilla from recipe.
Coconut Chiffon Cake: Add 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg to flour, reduce oil to 1/8 C,reduce water to 1/8 C, add 1/3 C. unsweetened coconut milk to oil, water, and yolks. Remove the vanilla.
Chocolate Chiffon Cake: Reduce flour to 3/4 C. + 1 TBSP and add 1/4 C. of cocoa powder to the flour mixture.
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring from pan with parchment paper. Or you can grease the bottom, but do not grease the sides of the pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 TBSP. of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
3. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla, and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk thoroughly for about 1 minute. Should be smooth.
5. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 3 TBSP. of sugar and beat on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
7. Using a grease-free rubber spatula, scoop about 1/3 of the whites into the batter and fold in gently. Fold in the rest of the whites gently until just combined.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes (mine took 45). Remove the cake from the oven and let it cook in the pan on a wire rack.
8. 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 of the parchment paper. Make sure the cake is cool before you start handling it. You can store the cake in the fridge for up to 4 days.
PASTRY CREAM FILLING:
- 1 C. whole milk
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 2 TBSP. cornstarch
- 1/4 C. sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 TBSP. butter
- 3/4 tsp. gelatin
- 1/2 TBSP. water
- 1 C. heavy cream
1. Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
2. 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.
3. 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. This is called tempering the eggs. It is the same thing you do when making a custard based ice cream.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
8. Put two inches of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Measure 1/4 cup of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit cross the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water. Or you can use a double-boiler. 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.
9. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula. Cool completely in the fridge.
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. I just left mine plain.
- 1/3 cup of sugar, flavored or white
- 1/3 cup 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.
- 1 baked 8 inch chiffon cake
- 1 recipe pastry cream filling
- 1/3 C. simple syrup
- powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- 1 to 2 Lbs. fresh strawberries ( and any other fruit you would like to include)
- 1/2 C. almond paste (optional)
- 1/2 C. whipping cream, whipped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar to taste
1. Line the sides of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers. Try to make them as even as possible.
3. Fit the bottom layer of cake into the spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup to resemble a squishy sponge.
4. Hull and slice enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. I just cut the strawberries in half. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
5. Pipe cream in between the strawberries in a thin layer across the top of the cake. Hull and quarter the remaining strawberries. You may also use any other kind of berries. Place them in the middle of the cake. Brush them with some simple syrup. Cover them entirely with the rest of the pastry cream. Don’t be shy, the more pastry cream the better. (If you decide to use almond paste, save out 1 TBSP. of the pastry cream). My strawberries looked mashed up because I was also making jam at the same time and I had left over mashed up strawberries.
6. Place the second layer of cake on top and moisten again with simple syrup.
7. If you use the almond paste, roll it out to 10-inch round, 1/16 inch thick. Save out about a TBSP of pastry cream and spread it over the top of the cake and cover with eh round of almond paste.
Just put sweetened whipped cream all over the top, like I did. Top with fresh berries.
8. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. The longer you refrigerate it, the more stable the pastry cream will get. I left mine in the fridge overnight and it was plenty stable the next morning. Right before serving, release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.