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.
This months challenge, a French fresh frasier was my kind dessert. A light chiffon cake, soaked in a light syrup, layered with fresh fruit, filled with crème patisserie and topped with a layer of marzipan. A combination of all my favourite things!
As long as we made all the main components ourselves, the style and flavour was completely up to us. My grandmother had just given me some fresh blackcurrants from her garden and so I decided to include these in the cake layers to make it extra fruity. Blackcurrants can be a little sharp, but baked into the cake they tasted perfectly sweet and I loved how they popped, creating little pools of moody purple juice dotted throughout the cake. To tie in with the almond marzipan on top I also included a little almond extract as I think almond and fruit make a delicious combo.
The crème patisserie was meant to include gelatin to help stabilize it, but being vegetarian I left this out and decided against adding a veggie alternative, as I’ve found in the past that a crème including whipped double cream is usually firm enough to hold up if given time in the fridge to chill and set. I kept my crème patisserie quite plain and simple, allowing its natural rich creamy flavour to shine through.
I made the cake and components in the morning, assembled it in the afternoon and then chilled it overnight before cutting it the following day. It’s not a dessert to make if you need something in a hurry, but it was well worth the wait. Allowing it to chill overnight gave time for the crème to thicken and set, the flavours to develop and the fruit juices to seep into the cake, making them soft and moist. It ended up tasting a bit like a sophisticated trifle.
Chiffon cake is quite a fragile delicate cake, and I also made it gluten free meaning it was even more in danger of falling apart. Thankfully I was able to cut and assemble the cake quite easily, but when it came to cutting the first slice, it sort of toppled over slightly. This didn’t effect my overall enjoyment of the cake though, if anything it meant I could dig in with gusto without feeling I had to be too dainty about it.
The cake was divine! I adored the thin layer of marzipan on top, which stayed soft and gooey and complemented the strawberry and blackcurrant flavours wonderfully. The sponge had soaked up all the juices and flavours and was so moist it was almost like a drizzle cake. Crème patisserie takes a little time to make, but is completely worth the extra effort. Thick and lusciously creamy it really gave the dessert that professional patisserie flavour. It’s so good I could eat it by the bucket load!
Serve in small dainty slices if you wish, but its so good people will be asking for seconds. So my advice is to serve it in large generous slices and watch peoples faces light up as they eat it. I even licked my plate clean! This cake is firmly on the ‘make again’ list.
Click to see the Fresh Frasier creations of the other Daring Bakers.
Strawberry, Blackcurrant & Almond Frasier
Gluten Free Blackcurrant Chiffon Cake
150g plain flour (I used GF white teff flour)
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
170g caster sugar
60ml vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used almond)
¾ tsp lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
50g blackcurrants (my own addition)
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Line the bottom of an 8 inch/20cm 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 of sugar. Stir to combine.
In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla (I used almond) 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 large bowl and beat on medium speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat again until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 3 spoonfuls of reserved sugar and beat until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
Scoop about a third of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently before folding in the remaining whites just until combined. (I folded in the blackcurrants at this stage).
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.
250ml whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
55g caster sugar
2 large egg yolks
30g unsalted butter
250ml double cream
¾ tsp gelatin and ½ tbsp water (I didn’t use this)
Pour the milk and vanilla into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a clean bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture, whisking all the time.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil.
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 until completely cold.
(I didn’t use the gelatin, so when the chilled mix was cold, I simply whisked the cream until it formed stiff peaks and folded it into the pastry cream. This made it a little soft, but it did firm up on chilling of the finished assembled cake. See below for gelatin instructions).
If using gelatin:
In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften. Put two inches of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
Measure 60g 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 48.8C. 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. Whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.
75g caster sugar
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 until required.
Line the sides of your 8inch/20cm spring form pan with clingfilm. Do not attach the base, simply use the outer ring. Place the ring on your serving plate.
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 a little of the simple syrup. 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. Use the leftover bits of strawberry to cover the top of the cake layer in the pan.
Carefully pour the crème patisserie over the top, spreading up to the edges in an even layer, reserving two tablespoons for the top of the cake.
Place the second cake layer on top, press down lightly and moisten with a little more of the syrup.
Roll out the marzipan into a large disc, only about 3mm thick. Use the base of the spring form pan to cut out a disc the size of the top of the cake.
Use the reserved crème patisserie to spread a thin layer over the top of the cake before placing on the marzipan disc. Cover the ring and cake with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the clingfilm.
Dust the top with icing sugar and decorate with a fanned out strawberry.