Another classic of French pastry for this second recipe of La Pistacheraie: the fraisier cake (« fraise » is the French word for strawberry). This cake is typically the pastry that almost every single French pastry shop sells when the spring pops up. A true delicacy that everybody loves (maybe this is one of the reasons why this cake is often served for weddings, christenings and other family reunions, after all). Sandwiched between two layers of soft sponge cake are dozens of fresh and juicy strawberries. A kind of custard is used between the strawberries and the cake layers, whilst there is often almond paste on top of the cake. With La Pistacheraie’s recipe, you will get a lighter result than the usual buttercream because I fold beaten mascarpone in my custard (instead of a completely decadent amount of butter). Yet, the cake is pretty decadent and not dry at all !
For this recipe, chose the freshest strawberries at your local grocery store. Make sure they smell good and get ready for action !
Level: Average 3/5
Time: 2h baking+ 1h cooling
Required tools/appliances: 20cm wide and 4,5cm tall cake ring, rhodoid plastic sheets, whip, parchment paper
Recommended tools: brush, spatula, piping bag, silicon sheet, rolling pin, electric whisk
Price : Affordable ~10€
Serves: at least 8
Special ingredients: vanilla pod, wild strawberry flavour
For this recipe, one can prepare the custard cream the day before, if needed.
1) Vanilla-mascarpone custard
2) Sponge cake
3) Syrup (to wash the cake layers with)
5) Cake building
1) Vanilla-mascarpone custard
50cl half skimmed milk – 5 egg yolks – 1 Bourbon vanilla pod- 80g granulated sugar – 50g corn starch – 40g unsalted butter – 120g fresh mascarpone cheese.
Slice the vanilla pod in its length and take all the tiny vanilla seeds with the blade of a small knife.
Heat the milk in a pan with the vanilla seeds and emptied vanilla pods.
In the meantime, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until it becomes white-ish.
Fold in the corn starch and whip again.
Just before the milk starts to boil, pour half of it in your egg-mix and whip gently. Once it looks homogenous, put everything back in the pan with the other half of the milk. Make sure you remove the empty vanilla pods and save them for the decoration.
With a gentle heating, whip your custard until it is no longer liquid. Remove from the stove, fold in the butter and stir well.
Pour the hot custard on a plate, put some plastic wrap on top of it and leave it to cool for 1 hour. (You will use this time to prepare the sponge cake.)
Once the cream is cool, fold in the mascarpone cheese and whip it good.
Once the custard is homogenous, put it in a piping bag if you have one. One does not need a nozzle/tip here. The piping bag allows you to be more precise with the cream.
4 whole eggs, 140g granulated sugar , 120g wheat flour for pastries, 40g unsalted butter.
Whip the eggs with your sugar, first as usual.
Then, keep on whipping but put the bowl on top of a pan full of steaming water. Whip it for a good couple of minutes, until the volume has doubled up and until it looks white-ish. It is a lot easier if you use an electric whisk, but still doable if you need arms workout ;)
Remove the bowl from the top of the boiling pan and keep on whipping to cool it a little bit. Fold in half of your flour, gently stirring the eggs with a spatula. Once the flour is perfectly blended in the eggs « mousse », add on the other half of it and repeat the process. Then, add the melted butter and stir gently.
Pour this airy dough on a silicon sheet (or on top of a parchment paper sheet), with 4 to 5 mm thickness. Make it as even as possible with a spatula. Bake it for 8 minutes in the oven pre-heated at 220°C. Gently remove it from the silicon sheet while it is still hot and cover it with a clean dishcloth.
3) Light syrup
25cl still water – 85gr granulated sugar – 2,5cl Kirch liquor – 4 mashed strawberries- 2TBSP wild strawberry flavour (can be replaced with strawberry syrup).
Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan until it boils,
Throw in four strawberries and mash them with a fork. Remove from the stove, leave it to cool for a dozen of minutes and filtrate to remove the bits of mashed strawberries.
Fold in the kirsch and wild strawberries flavour (or strawberry syrup if you don’t have this flavour).
4) fresh strawberries
500gr (minus the four already used in the syrup) of fresh and ripe strawberries.
Save the 3 or 4 best-looking for the cake decoration.
Remove the leaves and the hard bit of the others.
Sort out your strawberries in two groups: for the first one, pick up only the strawberries that have a height matching the one of your cake ring (or slightly smaller). All the other strawberries go in the second group (they will be used for the inside of the cake). Slice all your strawberries in half (in the height).
5) Cake building
Use the cake ring to cut two circles of 20cm in your sponge cake. If your cake is not large enough for two circles, use pieces of cake together to have a second whole circle.
Put the cake ring on a service plate. Add some rhodoid plastic sheet inside the ring. This will facilitate the removal of the finished cake.
Put the first circle of cake on the bottom (use the one in spare pieces if you did not manage to have two whole circles).
Wash it with roughly half of the syrup until it is really wet.
Put the half-strawberries from the first group against the cake ring (cf. picture). Make sure you do not leave any empty space between strawberries.
Using your piping bag of custard, put some custard inbetween the half strawberries and on top of the (wet) sponge cake.
Put the strawberries from group #2 in the middle of the cake, onto the custard layer.
Cover the strawberries with almost all the custard (save only a few Tbsps) and make sure the level is even (use a spatula).
Now, add the second circle of sponge cake on top of the custard.
Wash it with the other half of the syrup until it is quite wet. The cake has to drink the syrup…
Then, spread what is left of your custard on top of the cake and make it even.
150gr almond paste with 50% almonds + liquid red colour for food – green pistachios wedges – empty vanilla pods
For this decoration 50% almond paste is better than the usual 33% because it does not « melt » on top of the cake like the 33% one does. Add some drops of red colour to the almond paste and knead it to make sure the color is homogenous.
With a rolling pin, flatten the almond paste on a marble or a silicon sheet. To make it easier, you can use icing sugar.
Put the almond paste on top of your cake and cut it to the right size with the edges of the cake ring. Put the 3-4 preserved strawberries on top and add some green pistachios wedges or anything else you’d like. You can also reuse the empty vanilla pods.
Leave the cake to cool in the fridge for at least 1hr (2hrs would be better). Then, remove the ring and peel of the rhodoid plastic carefully.
Enjoy with a cup of tea or a sip of champagne !