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

    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 12:02 am on May 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: rhubarb, strawberries, strudel   

    Daring Bakers 19th Challenge: Strawberry Rhubarb Strudel 

    The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers. We had worked with flaky dough a little while back, but the challenge this time around was to actually make and stretch the dough paper thin.The filling was left to our imagination. Being prime time for rhubarb in this part of the world, and having access to a fresh-from-the-garden supply thanks to my honey’s backyard, I decided to go with a classic strawberry-rhubarb filling. The dough was easy to put together. The stretching took a while and I resorted to rolling it to avoid tearing it too much. It took a good 30 minutes to get it to what felt like the proper thickness.

    I knew deep down it coulda (shoulda) been thinner, but a) I was worried the dough would dry out, and  b) I was tired of rolling this thing. 😉  I added the strawberry-rhubarb filling, rolled it, tucked its ends and put it in the oven. Turned out all right. But again, I knew the dough should have been thinner.

    Talking about it with my honey over dessert (of guess what?…), the image of my KitchenAid pasta roller popped in my mind. Could it work? Granted, it was way narrower than was needed, but what’s wrong with mini strudels? A week later, I repeated the recipe, this time with the roller. It worked beautifully — now, that was my style of rolling dough. The results were much crispier (as expected) and delicate. This method would be ideal for making flaky canapés or small spanakopitas. Might be on to something here…Though next time I’ll make sure there’s another pair of hands available. This dough really stretches! Meanwhile, on to the Daring Cooks challenge (due May 14th)!

    • Ruth 10:47 am on May 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Your strudel looks delicious. I love how thin you got your dough.

    • Lauren 3:55 pm on May 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Yum! Your strudel looks amazing! I’m glad you figured out a way to make it work easily for you =D.

  • pixeltheatre 12:03 am on March 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: balsamic vinegar, , , Dorie Greenspan, party cake, strawberries   

    Daring Bakers – 6th Challenge: The Perfect Party Cake 

    Perfect Party CakeThis month’s Daring Bakers Challenge, hosted by Morven (Food Art and Random Thoughts), was the “Perfect Party Cake”, taken from  Dorie Greenspan‘s book Baking from my Home to Yours. This recipe called for plenty of lemons for the cake part, and enough butter all around to make Paula Dean proud. My mouth was watering just reading the instructions.

    On a quiet Friday morning, I printed the recipe and jumped right in. My KitchenAid made the whole process pretty painless. Like pretty much every DB recipe, this one seemed more daunting than the actual process turned out to be. My cakes came out moist and light, despite not rising much (a step involving whisking the egg whites and the buttermilk had been left out inadvertedly in the instructions) and the buttercream was just divine. Give me a recipe I can just beat the living daylights out of, any day. The preserve used between the layers was left to us. I decided to make the Strawberry Preserves with Black Pepper and Balsamic Vinegar, found on the Food Network site. Turned out lovely and balanced well with the lemon flavour of the cake. Big success all around. Bonus: 8 egg yolks to make ice cream (chocolate and vanilla).

    Can’t wait to see the April challenge! 🙂

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    • foodie froggy 3:11 am on March 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Wow, impressed with the cake and the strawberry preserve with black pepper and balsamic !!

    • Lucy V 9:24 am on March 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, very creative !

    • Annemarie 9:38 am on March 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Liz, your cake looks just lovely. The preserves were a great idea too – hope you shared the joy around!

    • Claire 2:12 pm on March 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Looks wonderful! I’m glad you enjoyed the cake.

    • jasmine 6:57 pm on March 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      What a great preserve choice. Well done!


    • Anne 7:33 pm on March 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Your cake is simply lovely…and looks super delicious too 🙂

    • Ritusmei 8:46 pm on March 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      mmmmm…. strawberries! YUM! Looks like it was completely delicious.

    • Deborah 10:23 am on April 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful job!! It looks delicious!

    • Big Boys Oven 2:05 am on April 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      such a cool cake you have there! amazingly good!

    • Lisa 6:01 pm on April 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Nice flavor combo!

    • danamccauley 6:47 pm on April 3, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hi fellow DBer! So true that baking often seems more daunting than it actually turns out to be once you start…why is that? I always seem to forget that making a great cake takes about the same time as ordering one and going to pick it up but is so much less expensive and so much more fun when you do it yourself.

      Nice job!

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