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  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on July 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: fraise, pastry cream,   

    Daring Bakers 52nd Challenge: Fresh fraisier 

    Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine. With a family BBQ coming up just before this challenge was due, I was glad I could finally serve a DB challenge to a crowd. Usually, I bake for two. This time, I could plan for 12.

    I made the chiffon cake on the Thursday night, and finished the cake on the Friday. This gave it a chance to firm up overnight for the Saturday BBQ. Although the recipe called for an 8-inch springform pan, which I didn’t have, my 10-inch one worked just as well. I just missed the local strawberry season, but plenty were still available from California. Since this dessert was for a special occasion, I used Avalon‘s whole milk and cream (higher fat content than regular supermarket brands) and it paid off. The pastry cream was smooth and silky. I also added a couple of teaspoons of limoncello to the simple syrup. The frosting on the marzipan layer did not stay very nicely when I removed the plastic film before serving, but hey, it still tasted very good. I appreciated that this dessert was not very sweet, allowing the strawberries to fully come through. Very nice recipe.

    Basic Chiffon Cake:

    1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder
    3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar
    1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher
    1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil
    3 large egg yolks
    ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water
    1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
    3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) lemon zest, grated
    5 large egg whites
    ¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar


    • Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
    • Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) 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 (45 ml.) 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.

    Pastry Cream Filling:

    1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) whole milk
    1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) pure vanilla extract
    1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) (¼ gm) salt, preferably kosher
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm)cornstarch
    1/4 cup (60 ml) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar
    1 large egg
    2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) unsalted butter
    3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (4 gm) gelatin
    1/2 tablespoon (7½ ml) water
    1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) 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 (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
    • Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) 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 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.
    • 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:

    You may choose to flavor the syrup. One way is to use flavored sugar (for example: apple cider sugarorange 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.

    1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
    1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) 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 (20 cm) chiffon cake
    1 recipe pastry cream filling
    ⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
    2 lbs (900 g) strawberries
    confectioners’ sugar for dusting
    ½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste


    • Line the sides of a 8-inch (20 cm) 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. (15 ml) 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 (25 cm) round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) 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.
  • pixeltheatre 12:01 am on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Spätzle   

    Daring Cooks 27th challenge: German Spätzle 

    Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with! Well, Steph had me at spätzle. I love the stuff. I hadn’t made it in ages, though I had bought it a couple of times pre-made. Again, this Daring Cooks challenge was a timely reminder of how quick and easy making pasta dough can be. As a bonus, I got to use the spätzle grater I bought eons ago, that has been dutifully sitting in the bottom of one of my kitchen drawers. I added some garlic salt and cayenne to the dough. My honey gave me a hand with the “grating”, and we served it with the suggested recipe for butter and bread crumb sauce. It accompanied a simple meal of bbq sliders. An unusual combination, perhaps, the result of a “OMG, the Daring Cooks challenge is due next week!” realization on Saturday morning. 😉 I had the leftovers the night after, heated up in a pan, with a bit of butter. Hmmm….

    German Spätzle


    2 large eggs
    ½ cup (120 ml) milk (any style of milk you what, but I believe buttermilk may be traditional. I’ve always used 1 or 2%.)
    1½ cups (360 ml) (210 gm) (7½ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour (approximately – have more on hand, in case)
    up to 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of herbs and spices (optional – I added some cayenne and herbes de provence)
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) (3 gm) fresh parsley, chopped (optional – I added this for color mostly)


    1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and any herbs and spices that you want to incorporate into the spätzle.
    2. Incorporate the flour in small batches, by sifting in a small amount at a time and mixing until the flour is completely integrated. Keep adding flour until the dough becomes elastic, smooth and very hard to stir.
    3. Boil a large pot of water. Dip a table spoon into the boiling water to wet it. To form the spätzle, fill the tablespoon about half way with dough, and release into the boiling water.
    4. Boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
    5. Drain the water from the spätzle. Because it’s full of fun craters where water can hide, you will need to drain it especially well. Toss with the chopped parsley.
    6. Plate, and dab a bit of the sauce on each spätzle. Don’t add too much – it’s really more of a light dressing than a sauce.

    Butter and Breadcrumb Sauce (for Spätzle):


    ½ cup (120 ml) (30 gm) (1 oz) fresh breadcrumbs OR ½ cup (120 gm) (60 gm) (2 oz) dry breadcrumbs (either variety can be used)
    salt and pepper, to taste


    1. Melt the butter… this can be done in the microwave, or on the stove.
    2. Mix in the breadcrumbs. If needed, gently heat further (especially if you store breadcrumbs in the fridge or freezer).
    3. Season to your taste
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