Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Distracted Cook Bakes a 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.

Of course, not everyone has fresh strawberries hanging around the garden, so Jana gave us creative license to create the basic recipe using other berries or fruit. Blueberries were calling my name, so The Distracted Cook thought they were worth an attempt.

The first decision was whether to follow the recipe for a basic chiffon cake or to use one of the variations. Blueberries and lemon seemed to be a good match, so that is what was baked in our kitchen.

I must say that the lemon variation is absolutely delicious. I had never made a chiffon cake from scratch (or any other way, come to think about it.) All of the beating and folding and separating of eggs was a real fun job, and the end result certainly tasted good enough to pass muster.

Egg whites are beaten until they hold a soft peak - almost ready!

After beating the egg whites they are gently folded into the egg yolk mixture just like in the picture above. Then into the prepared pan, and into the oven. After baking and cooling the cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days - which is a good thing because you can then do the other steps and not worry about the cake. And even before this, you can make the simple syrup and refrigerate it also. I added some Limoncello to my syrup for another boost of lemon flavor.

Making the pastry cream is the next step and that also may be done in steps over a few days. This is a really convenient recipe!

Next comes the final assembly and final refrigeration before cutting and serving. After splitting the cake, lining the springform pan with plastic wrap and inserting the bottom of the cake back into the bottomless form, it is time to play with the design of the blueberries around the sides. Talk about fun. And every berry that fell over or rolled around had to be eaten - right then! After you manage to get the entire  pan lined with some berries you begin piping the pastry cream around them. The rest of the blueberries are then set in the middle of the cake and everything is covered with the rest of the pastry cream except for a few tablespoons that you save aside. And don't forget, when you cut the cake into two layers, you brush each layer with the simple syrup so that it soaks up that lemon sweetness. This is one of the real secrets of the wonderful taste. The other is that you roll out a very thin (not thick like mine ended up being) circle of almond paste to set on top of the top layer of cake. I dusted some powdered sugar over the top of that layer and put the entire thing to sleep until dinner time (or at least four hours so that it all those flavors get to soak in together.) The time in the refrigerator also allows the pastry cream to set so that it all doesn't end up on the floor when you release the springform and remove the plastic wrap from around the sides.

This is what the finished Fraisier looked like. Yes, those are pretty big blueberries!

And this is what my piece looked like before it disappeared.

Why don't you have some fun in the kitchen baking with us? Just join The Daring Kitchen and we'll see you back here next month.

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