Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blackberry Fraisier, er, Mûrier

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. We were required to make chiffon cake, pastry cream mousse and simple syrup from scratch; the cake had to feature fruit on its sides and be free standing. You can download the full challenge and recipes here.

Don't be intimidated. I promise this is totally do-able. Making the components requires some advance planning due multiple steps and a 4 hour minimum chill time time, but as long as you pay attention the recipes are manageable! The Fraisier's assembly is by far the hardest part, but even my products' imperfect appearance looks impressive and more importantly it was delicious.

If you like desserts that are fruity, creamy and light on the palate (though not so much on the waist), then a Fraisier is perfect for you. The chiffon cake has a tender texture similar to Angel food cake and soaking it in simple syrup makes it very moist. If you flavor your simple syrup effectively, I'd imagine it also adds an extra flavor dimension. Since my ginger simple syrup wasn't detectable I ended up with blackberry and vanilla for my flavor profile and that was fine with me.

The pastry cream's speedy production really impressed me. It was so quick that when I walked away from the stove after returning the custard to it it clumped (see the picture with an x over it below) and I had to start again. As far as mistakes go this one wasn't so bad; Dad has been quite happy with the leftover lumpy pastry cream. I may make it my go to recipe

Thank you for a cool, sweet, summer challenge, Jana! It was a perfect fit for Virginia's heat wave and berries from the Red Dog Farm.

Basic Chiffon Cake
1 cup and 2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
3/4 cups Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt, preferably Kosher
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil (I used Canola.)
3 large egg yolks
1/3cup and 1 tablespoon Water
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4 teaspoon Lemon Zest, grated
5 Large Egg Whites
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.
2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan. (I didn't have a springform pan and substituted a 13 x 9 x 2 Pyrex baking dish.)
 3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
4. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
5. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
6. 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.
7. Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack. (Mine sunk a little. Reading through other Daring Baker's comments it looks like cooling it in the pan upside down helps to avoid sinking.)
10. 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 Whole Milk
1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/8 teaspoon Salt, preferably Kosher
2 tablespoons Cornstarch
1/4 cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
3/4 teaspoon Gelatin
1/2 tablespoon Water
1 cup Heavy Cream

1. 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.
2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
3. Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
4. 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.
5. 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. Do not walk way... This happens quickly!
6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
8. 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.
9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
10. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
11. 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.
12. Heat the cream until it is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 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.
13. 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 sugar, orange 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 of fruit juice or liqueur while the syrup is cooling.

1/3 cup Sugar, flavored or white
(1/4 cup peeled and sliced Ginger)
1/3 cup Water

1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
4. 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 Chiffon Cake
1 recipe Pastry Cream Filling
1/3 cup Simple or Flavored Syrup
2 lbs Strawberries
(Traditionally it is covered with almond paste, but I skipped this and used extra pastry cream to "frost" the top of mine.)

1. Line the sides of a 8-inch spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
6. 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. of the pastry cream.
7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
8. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. The longer it chills, the more firm the gelatin will become.
9. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
10. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  1. Yep, this post got my mouth watering.

  2. Wish I could share it with you, Paul!

  3. I think this is exactly what I want to make as my next "Fraisier", blackberry and miniature. Very cute!

  4. I wish I could make this to bring to work...transport looks difficult. Great job!

  5. Berry Lovely - Thank you! Miniature is the way to go always in my book.

    April - I think you could freeze it, then transport it in the cooler. It can be served room temperature.

  6. Blackberry Fraisiers look yummy, love both versions (loaf and individual sizes)

  7. i too loved the pastry cream! made a double batch :) your mûrier looks amazing! congrats on the challenge!

  8. Hi D! Thank you. The loaf was super easy to slice, which was handy, and you can't go wrong with portions.

    Bourbonatrix - Thank you for the proper term!

  9. Your pastry cream looks perfect & I love both versions of your mûrier. I just want to dive head first at that loaf and your minis are bite-size perfection! I have some blackberries in the freezer - I must try this out.

  10. I love blackberries--what a great idea to make the cake with those. It looks amazing! My pastry cream lumped at the end too, and I thought I would have to start again, but I whisked it and it smoothed right out.

  11. Suzler - Thank you so much! The blackberries rolled on me, but I think they were also a bit overripe. If yours are firm they will probably set better.

    Mary - Whisking out the lumps sounds much more logical than starting over... Either way at least it was an easy fix. Thank you.

  12. The smaller version of fraisier is so cute, I could also see how blackberries could replace strawberries beautifully!

  13. Sarah, I love your individual versions!!!, they look amazing, next time I am going to try it this way. Great job!!!

  14. I appreciate your kind words, Inma. I am sure your individual ones will be lovely!