Le Fraisier (French strawberry shortcake)

le fraisier-strawberry shortcake

It’s been a while since my last post. I hope that the beginning of 2013 has been delightful for all of you so far!

I’ve been eating too much, traveling, and falling sick. Things have been not too bad otherwise.

I’ve a couple of backlog posts that I have wanted to do but didn’t have the time to.

I shall dedicate the first post of 2013 to one of my favourite cakes: Le Fraiser, a traditional French strawberry shortcake.

I love how pretty it looks: its top being drapped with light pink or pale green marzipan; its sides showcasing neatly lined up strawberries. I love how it tastes: the sweet juxtaposition of intense vanilla and fresh strawberries.

It may not be as light and airy as its Japanese counterpart which is often made of light sponge layers with crème Chantilly and strawberries. But I love a cake with richer flavours. This is one of my favourite celebration cakes especially when strawberries are in season.

le fraisier2

There are many variations of this cake but a traditional one is made with two layers of genoise sponge brushed with sugar syrup, filled with a vanilla flavoured crème mousselline and lined with strawberries, topped with a thin layer of marzipan. The words “Le Fraisier” would be piped onto the marzipan top using dark or white chocolate.

My version of this cake uses a slightly lighter genoise sponge. It’s a in-between of the light Japanese sponge and a rich, dense French genoise. With a lighter sponge, I opted for the lighter crème diplomat instead of the butter-rich crème mousseline.

I also found it easy to make my own marzipan. Since I don’t store marzipan at home and the taste of store-bought marzipan is often not good at all, I just make a small batch of marzipan every time I need it.

Even though this cake require more time and attention, it’s definitely a good addition to have in your repertoire of celebration cakes.

x,
jo

p.s Please do feel free to drop by with any comments or questions. Love hearing from you!

le fraisier sides

Recipe: Le Fraisier (French strawberry shortcake)
Makes 8 inch round cake

This is my version of the traditional French strawberry shortcake. It is slightly lighter compared to its French counterpart.

Genoise sponge

Ingredients:
240g eggs (about 4 large eggs)
100g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
100g plain flour, sifted

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 165 degrees celsius. Line and grease a 8″ springform cake tin.

2. Warm eggs and sugar up over a bain marie, until sugar has dissolved and egg mixture is lukewarm to touch. Be careful not to cook the eggs.

3. Whisk the egg mixture at maximum speed for about 6-8 minutes untill pale, thickened, and triple in volume. Batter should be at ribbon consistency.

4. Pour in melted butter (warm but not hot) and fold through the batter.

5. Fold in the sifted flour through the batter thoroughly. Pour cake batter into cake tin and bake immediately in the pre-heated oven for about 28 -30 minutes, until it springs back to touch. Do not open the oven in the first 20 minutes of the baking or the cake may collapse.

6. Allow the cake to cool completely on a cooling rack. Trim the brown top and bottom off and divide the cake diagonally into two equal halves. Use a cake turn table and a long serrated knife for best results.

Homemade Marzipan

Ingredients:
56g sugar
20ml water
pinch cream of tar tar
100g ground almonds
10g egg white
dash of almond extract (optional)
pink food colouring (I used Wilton colour paste)

Method:
1. Boil sugar, water, cream of tar tar in a pot, stir occasional to make sure that sugar dissolves properly. Heat mixture until 115 degrees celsius (240 degrees F) – Check temperature with a kitchen thermometer

2. Immerse the pot in tap water to stop cooking. Sugar syrup should start to look thick and slightly opaque.

3. Stir in ground almonds and egg whites and put it back over low heat. Stir for another 2 minutes until marzipan mixture comes together. Add more egg whites if it is still too dry and clumpy. Add in almond extract, if using.

4. Turn marzipan out and use immediately. Add colouring (I use one or two drop of Wilton pink colour paste). Knead marzipan with your fingers until colour is uniform.

5. Dust table with icing sugar and roll out marzipan until about 1.5-2mm thick. Cut it neatly with the same cake ring that you made your cake in. Store in the fridge until you start to assemble the cake.


Sugar syrup:

Ingredients:
75 ml water
75g sugar
Grand Marnier (to taste)

Method:
1. Place water and sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil before turning the heat off and adding grand Marnier to taste.

2. Brush over cake tops when it is still warm as it allows the sugar syrup to soak the cake layers better.

Creme diplomat

Ingredients:
300ml full-cream milk
1/2 vanilla bean
60g egg yolks
60g caster sugar
30g cornflour
21g butter
180ml cream

Method:
1. Make a creme patisserie: Boil milk and scrapped vanilla bean seeds in a pot.

2. In the meantime, whisk egg yolks, caster sugar and cornflour in a separate mixing bowl.

3. When the milk comes to a boil, pour it over the egg yolk mixture and whisk.

4. Pour egg and milk mixture back to the pot over low heat, continue to whisk vigorously until mixture thickens and comes together. Creme pat should be smooth, glossy, thickened and comes away from the sides of the pot. Mix in the butter at this stage.

5. Pour out the creme patisserie onto a tray and cling wrap it. Chill in the fridge until completely cool.

6. Whisk cream in a clean mixing bowl at maximum speed until it reaches firm peaks.

7. Loosen up the creme patisserie with a whisk until smooth and soft. Add in a quarter of the whipped cream and whisk to lighten mixture (to get a similar consistency to the whipped cream).

8. Fold through the rest of the whipped cream until uniform and light, be careful not to knock out unnecessary air. Use immediately.

To assemble:
a punnet of strawberries (pick out strawberries of similar size)
acetate ribbon strip/baking parchment strip
8″ cake ring
cake board

*Ensure all components of the cake is done before assembling. The creme diplomat should be done right before assembling.

Method:
1. Line the sides cake ring with acetate strip (If you don’t have acetate, you can use baking parchment instead). Place this on a cake board.
2. Transfer the first of your genoise cake layer onto the cake board. Take a look to see if the genoise layer is too high, if it is, you can trim it at this point. Brush the genoise sponge with sugar syrup if you have not done so already. Ensure that the sponge is well-soaked.
3. Slice strawberries into half. Arrange the strawberries neatly around the cake ring, with its cross-section facing outside. Trim the height of the strawberries if necessary so that they would all be of uniform height. They need to be packed rather tightly without any gaps.
4. Fill the center of the cake with creme diplomat. You can choose to pipe or you can simply use a spatula. Use a small palette knife to push the creme diplomat to cover the gaps between the strawberries or you may get a cake with unfilled area at the sides.
5. Topped the creme diplomat with plenty of cut up strawberries in the center of the cake.
6. Place the second genoise layer on top of the creme diplomat and push down firmly all around the cake to ensure there are no gaps. Using a palette knife, spread a layer of creme diplomat on top of the second genoise layer. This layer of creme diplomat would be a very thing one. Just enough to cover the surface area of the cake.
7. Let it set in the fridge for a while before transferring the marzipan layer right on the very top.
8. Refrigerate for about four hours before serving. You can decorate the top with fresh berries and melt some chocolate to pipe “Le Fraisier” across the center of the cake, or in my case, I piped “Happy birthday!” instead.

*Tips:

– The proportion of the creme diplomat to the genoise sponge is very important. The creme diplomat should be about 1cm above the height of strawberry. Make sure the cake layers are not too thick. Trim if necessary. You can make an extra mini Le Fraisier if you wish.

– You can make the genoise sponge a few days before assembling. Store the cooled sponge in a few layers of cling wrap and keep it in the freezer. Allow for it to come to room temperature before using.

– You can make part of the Creme diplomat ahead of time. Make the creme patisserie. Store it in the fridge (well-wrapped) Prepare the whipped cream on the day of assembling and fold through.

– Ensure the sponge layers are well-soaked in sugar syrup. Best to brush the syrup over the cake when the syrup is right off the stove. Brush over twice or even thrice. This will keep the sponge soft and moist.

le fraisier slice

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About jothetartqueen

My first love is eating. A very close second is my love for baking and cooking. I passionately believe that the best form of appreciation of something is almost always through the creation of it. This passion took me on a whirlwind, unforgettable ride through the patisserie diploma course at Le Cordon Bleu (Sydney). Join me on my discovery for the love of food – through the kitchen, through the markets, through experimenting, tasting and loving.
This entry was posted in Cakes, Festive and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Le Fraisier (French strawberry shortcake)

  1. Wow, what a gorgeous cake to begin 2013 with!! I love how pretty and delicate it looks, the fresh strawberries ringed round is so dainty. I’ve not heard of this sort of cake, it’s truly worth the time to make each step because I’m certain the flavor must be heavenly! I love the changes you’ve made, it must have such a fluffy texture. I’m going to Pin this one, it would be pretty for Valentine’s Day:) xx

    • Thanks Barbara! Yeah if you google Le Fraisier, you will see lots of variations of this cake.

      it’s certainly worth the time and effort for each and every step. Especially when its made for your loved ones..

  2. Evelyn says:

    Hi,

    I discovered your gorgeous blog late last year! Thanks to you, I’ve discovered choux pastry doesn’t always turn soggy – I’ve been under baking them!!
    I would love to try the Fraisier but was wondering if I can leave out the Marzipan (not a fan, I’m afraid).

    Cheers,

    • Hi Evelyn!

      I’m delighted to know that your choux pastries are turning out well.

      Yes, you definitely can make Le Fraisier without the marzipan top. Just smooth out the top layer of the creme diplomat with a long palette knife. You can choose to glaze it with a translucent mirror glaze or make your own strawberry glaze.

      Just have fun with your cake – feel free to add any components you like and take away any that you don’t. =) Cheers

  3. Oh wow, what an utterly flawless, jaw-droppingly beautiful cake. I’ve attempted to make a Fraiser once before, but it didn’t turn out looking anything like this masterpiece!

  4. That is one of the classiest and most professional looking cakes I have ever seen 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  5. pattyabr says:

    What a lovely cake. Thanks for posting the recipe of marzipan
    Very beautiful pictures.

  6. Wow that looks amazing Jo! I’d pay good money for that cake! 😀

  7. That cake looks absolutely incredible, I love how you have decorated it. Anything filled with Creme Patissiere is good in my books!
    I’ve never made marzipan, or even concidered how it is made. now I know 🙂
    xxx

  8. Caroline says:

    hi Jo, this is a beautiful cake! I wanted to make a fraisier and was looking for a good recipe so decided to use yours. I had a bit of a disaster making my own marzipan so I used pink fondant instead! I also found that the quantity of cream you gave for the creme patissiere made far more than I needed, I wonder if I did something wrong because I used the same size cake tin? Anyway I was very happy with the result which I am posting on my own blog, but I am redirecting people back to your website to get the recipe. Hope that’s OK!

  9. Malerie says:

    Hello, I found your blog while looking for a fraisier recipe and your recipe definitely has the best directions and prettiest pictures! I’m hoping to make a 10″ fraisier, do you think if I just scale all the ingredients up, the recipe will still work out? Thank you!

    • Hi Malerie,

      Thanks for your very kind words.
      Yea you can easily scale up for a 10 inch cake.

      The baking time of the sponge will need adjusting though. Will take a longer time for a larger cake.

      Hope this helps!
      Jo

  10. Hieu Minh says:

    Hey Jo thanks for the recipe. It looks greatttt. I’m gonna try this out soon. Just one question: When making the creme diplomat, we need 1800ml creme? Or you meant 180 ml? Thankssss

  11. Hi Hieu Minh,

    I meant to say 180ml cream. Thanks! 😉

  12. Midia says:

    Hi Jo!

    Your cake looks just beautiful, great and yummy…^^ I saw it yesterday and just baked it for my friend’s birthday… I can’t wait to slice them and have them… hahaha…. Btw, your sponge cake recipe is just like my mom’s recipe, we love it!:) Thank you for sharing….

  13. Hajra Fahad says:

    Hi Jo , Thanks for all your efforts to share this recipe. Tried it out yesterday and it was yummm. I would love to share the pic of it. Plz let me know how I can share it Thanx.

  14. So gorgeous! May I ask how tall/deep the acetate strips are?

  15. Pingback: My Love for Strawberries | living a soulful life

  16. Audrey says:

    Could you use 2% instead of full fat milk?

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