Fraisier Cake is the ultimate strawberry cake

In France, the arrival of strawberries means a strawberry cake – a precise pile of tender almond sponge and luscious custard, girdled in the middle by a perfectly straight row of strawberry cross-sections. Behind the pastry glass you’ll find versions with elegant piping, wafer-thin green marzipan sheets, intricate chocolate work, and fruit jelly, but strawberries are always the star of the show. The berries are almost like pillars holding the cream and cake in place, and the dessert is only as good (or as beautiful) as the strawberries you use.

In its simplest form, strawberry cake is basically a big sandwich made with the reddest, ripest strawberries you can find. “The sweet is all about the berries and the cream – the skinny cake is just there to frame them,” writes Dorie Greenspan in her book. cooking at home.

There may be a million easier ways to enjoy the combination of berries and cream (like Eton mess, strawberry shortcake and trifle), but it’s hard to beat the presentation here or the way the velvety custard blends together. with the cake to create the perfect, silky foil with the tangy, sweet flavor of the berries. That’s why I made it a ritual to celebrate strawberry season every year with a homemade strawberry plant. Every summer, I go to the farmers’ market in search of the ripest, juiciest berries I can find and set aside an afternoon to bake the sponge and whip together some custard.

Photo by Massimo Pessina, Food styling by Eric Kayser

I suspect the following tip may get some frowns and eye-rolls from pastry chefs, but if you don’t feel like making a meringue for the chiffon cake, you can substitute the sponge ( like a hot milk cake) of your choice or even use a cake mix. (I won’t say anything, I promise.)

Once you have your cake and pastry cream, all you have to do is slice your strawberries and mount the cake using a cake ring. You’ll use this ring to cut two circles out of your sheet of cake, then use the same ring to assemble the dessert: lay down a slice of cake, then line up your halved strawberries along the perimeter of the pan. Use some of the pastry cream to hold these halves in place, then fill the center of the cake with more whole strawberries and top with more pastry cream, followed by the second layer of cake.

After topping with even more strawberries, place the dessert in the refrigerator directly into the ring and let time and refrigeration do its magic overnight, which helps firm up the custard, making it easier to unmold. The big reveal happens the next day, and the key to successfully unmolding the cake is to do it quickly and confidently while the dessert is still cold. It’s hard to match the excitement of seeing unmolded strawberry cake in all its glory, but even better is that very first bite of juicy strawberries and rich pastry cream.

A thin layer of sponge cake topped with sliced ​​strawberries and pastry cream with forks and spoons.
Fraisier (strawberry cream cake)

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