My absolute *favorite* French dessert is Le Fraisier. You might have all thought it would be macarons by the way I talk about them, but it is actually Le Fraisier. You just haven't heard about it because it's very difficult to bake yourself!
Since I'm not headed to Paris anytime soon, I figured I might as well start learning how to make my own.
And here is the result:
This recipe was challenging such that there were so many different things to make: the cake, the pastry cream, the kirsch syrup, the marzipan. Then there's the assembly.
This recipe took about five hours. Everywhere I read says "only two hours" but there's resting time. It was not easy to bake and is not for a beginner baker! Next time I will be preparing things in steps.
Oh, it occurred to me that you may not know how to say "Fraisier". It's "Freh-zee-YAY", or, here's the link to google and just hit the microphone button.
When we were in Paris last year, the Fraisiers just started arriving in the patisseries. Everyone was so excited about them as they are a seasonal offering - and now I appreciate them even more since making my own.
On to the recipe - adapted from Laduree and Cakelets and Doilies.
This recipes makes either one 9" cake or eight 3" cakes. This recipe has to chill overnight so you need to make it ahead of time.
Almond Génoise Cake
50 g (3 1/2 tbsp) butter , unsalted
200g (1 2/3 cup) cake flour
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds or almond flour
1 1/2 tbsp butter
Making the Génoise cake
- Melt the 1 1/2 tbsp butter and using a pastry brush, butter your cake pan. Place the cake pan in the fridge to allow the butter to harden.(notes - if you are making mini cakes, you will want to bake your cake in a 12x8 rectangular cake pan)
- In a small saucepan, melt the 50g of butter over low heat.
- In a large heatproof mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar.
- Preheat oven to 340F. Place your heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and whisk until the mixture is warm, thick and pale, and the mixture has tripled in volume (approximately 122F). Then remove from the heat and keep mixing until the mixture is cool (notes - I could not get this thing to triple over the simmering water. So I just heated it, while stirring constantly, until it was 122F and then attached it to my kitchenaid mixer and let it whisk until it tripled in volume and the mixture was completely cool).
- Once completely cooled down, fold in the sifted flour into the mixture. Then fold in the ground almonds. And then the melted butter.
- Lightly flour your cake pan and tap out an excess. Then immediately fill with batter and place in the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
100mL (1/2 cup - 1tbsp) water
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
40mL (2 1/2 tbsp) kirsch liqueur (see notes below about kirsch)
Making the syrup
Combine the sugar and water into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow to boil for just 5 seconds. Remove from the heat, let it cool, then stir in the kirsch liqueur.
350g whole milk
1/2 a vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped for inside beans/seeds
4 egg yolks
35g plain flour
200g unsalted butter, softened
1tbsp cherry liqueur (optional)
Making the creme
- Place milk, vanilla bean and scraped seeds into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then remove from heat and set aside.
- In another bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture is pale yellow. Mix int the flour until well combined.
- Remove vanilla bean pod from milk mixture. Then pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, constantly whisking to combine.
- Then pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and place over high heat. Whisk constantly until it is thickened, smooth, and glossy. Then remove from heat and transfer pastry cream to a plate. Immediately cover with plastic cling wrap and place into the freezer to cool but only for 10 minutes. Do not allow it to freeze (If you don't put the cling wrap on immediately, the pastry cream will get a film on it that's lumpy and gross and you will have to strain it out later, so don't miss this step)
- While the cream is in the freezer, beat your butter until creamy. Then when the pastry cream is about room temperature, add the cream to the butter and mix until while combined. Add the liqueur.
- Spoon the mousseline into a piping bag with 1cm piping tip.
food coloring (either pink or light green, and don't use the cheap store bought ones, you need a higher grade version)
Making the marzipan
Working the marzipan with your fingers to warm it up. Using a rolling pin, spread the marzipan into a thin layer. Then either place it on top of the 9" cake pan and take off the sides or you can use an extra cake mold and cut it out. (You may use cornflour on the kitchen worktop to keep it from sticking. I also recommend wearing some gloves as the food coloring will get all over you)
1 pound of strawberries, cut in half and with the green tops removed. (Save your cutest strawberries for the top and set them aside. Also, smaller strawberries look cuter in the cake and are more sweet. When you cut the berries, you want them to all be the same height).
Assembling the cakes
Cut out the sponge cake with your cake rings. Then, inside the cake ring, place a circle of plastic cake wrap. Then put the sponge cake. Brush the cake with the kirsch syrup. Arrange the strawberries around the edge of the cake ring with the flat edge facing the outside. Pipe or spread the creme mousseline over the strawberries. Then place another layer of sponge cake on top. Put the marzipan on top. Place in the fridge overnight. The following day, dip a strawberry into the kirsch syrup and put on top just before serving.
Materials I used to bake Le Fraisier
Hand Mixer (I did not use it this time, but I will next time!)
Now, making the kirsch syrup was kind of funny. It calls for cherry liqueur. As I don't drink, a stroll into the alcohol beverage store was quite the adventure. After wandering around for quite some time and googling on my phone, I learned this: cherry schnapps is *not* the same thing. You need to use cherry liqueur and the brand that apparently all the French chefs use is Heering Cherry Liqueur. You're welcome. I just saved you an hour on the internet and wandering around the market.
As you can see, they are highly photogenic. I had fun photographing them as well as eating them.
This chef also has a nice picture tutorial with each step. The recipe is a little different and he uses a rectangular large cake pan, but the idea is the same.
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