Fraisier is the French word for strawberry and the Fraisier Cake is one of my favorite French pastries. Every time I go to France it is one of my must-have desserts. When I returned home I was determined to learn how to make it. Several cakes later and thanks to the book, The Art of the Cake, I was able to recreate it. Read on to get the recipe.
How to Make a Genoise Sponge
This cake is a labor of love, but despite its name and appearance, it is not a hard cake to make. The hardest part is making the genoise sponge, which should be light and moist. Here are the steps for making a Genoise.
There is no leavening agent in a Genoise. The rise and fluffy texture come from beating air into whole eggs and then gently folding in the flour and butter. This recipe is most easily accomplished with a stand mixer.
Step 1: Heat up the eggs. The eggs are heated to 100 degrees F. Have an accurate thermometer on hand to measure the temperature. I prefer Thermapen Mk4. It's accurate and it is designed to be easily held with one hand. The eggs and sugar are combined and whisked over simmering water in the mixing bowl until the egg mixture comes to temperature.
Step 2: Beat on Medium Speed. When the eggs comes to temperature use the whisk attachment and beat the mixture on medium speed until the batter is has increased in volume and is cooled. When the mixture is whipped on medium speed the air bubbles form more slowly and therefore are more stable. When the flour mixture and butter are folded into the batter it won't deflate as much. Mixing the batter on high speed will cause it to increase in volume quicker, but it will deflate more when the other ingredients are added.
Step 3: Sift the Flour Mixture into the Batter. Sifting the flour into the batter keeps lumps from forming when it is folded in.
Step 4: Gently fold in the Flour Mixture. Use a large spatula and fold the flour mixture into the batter. Scrape the bottom of the bowl each time and fold the batter over the top. Scrape the bottom also ensures the flour gets mixed in since it will sink to the bottom after it is added.
Step 5. Gently Scrape the Batter into the Pan. Scrape the batter into the baking pan. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. There will be a lot of air bubbles, which is good. Do not tap the pan to remove the air bubbles. If you tap the pan, the final cake will be dense. Bake according to the directions in the recipe.
Creme Mousseline Buttercream
This buttercream is also called a light pastry cream, which is kind of deceiving because butter is added to create a rich buttercream. It's an interesting contrast because it's rich-tasting, but tastes light at the same time.
The other common name for this buttercream is German buttercream. It is one of my favorite buttercreams because it is so rich and yummy. The recipe produces enough buttercream to fill the cake and add decorations.
The Creme Mousseline is made by first making a pastry cream, then allowing it to cool to at least room temperature before adding the butter.
Assembling the Fraisier Cake
Assembling the cake is very relaxing for me. Cutting the strawberries, arranging them in a circle and then smoothing the buttercream.
Position the cake ring on a flat service, preferably one that will fit easily into your refrigerator. Lay the cake in the center and brush the surface with about 1/4 cup of heavy syrup.
Arrange the cut strawberries around the cake ring. I used local strawberries for this dessert but you can also use imported berries too. The advantage of the local berries is the taste, the advantage of the imported berries is the uniform size of the berries. After arranging the strawberries in a ring spread a thin layer of the creme mousseline on top and then layer more cut strawberrries on top the buttercream. Fill the cake ring with buttercream and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.
I prepare this cake over 2-3 days but allow at least 2 days for this recipe to give time for the buttercream to set and pastry cream to cool. If you choose to brulee the top, sprinkle 3-4 tablespoons of sugar over the top and use a kitchen torch to melt sugar. It will form a thin crackly crust on top. Return to the refrigerator and allow it to set, about 1 hour.
When you're ready to serve the cake, decorate with fresh fruit and the remaining buttercream.
- 4 (200 grams) large eggs, room temperature
- 9 tablespoons (113 grams) granulated white sugar
- 2/3 cup (88 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon (10 grams) cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, barely melted
Crème Mousseline (Light Pastry Cream)
- 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch
- 9 (180 grams) egg yolks
- 1 (50 grams) large egg
- 1 1/4 cup (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 26 tablespoons (366 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (200 grams) white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
Assembly the Cake
- 1/4 cup heavy syrup
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 pints fresh strawberries plus extra for decorating
For the Heavy Syrup
- Combine the sugar and water in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve all the sugar. Cover and allow the syrup to cool.
- The syrup will last for several months at room temperature in an airtight container.
For the Genoise
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly brush a round 9 x 2-inch cake pan with melted butter and dust with flour. Line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Combine the flour and the cornstarch and sift onto a piece of parchment or wax paper. Melt the butter in a small butter until it is just melted. The butter should be barely melted.
- Place a 3 or 4-quart pot of water on the stove, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Place the whole eggs and the sugar to the stainless-steel mixing bowl. Whisk together and then place over the simmering water. Continue to whisk until the eggs and sugar reach 100 degrees F.
- Remove the bowl from the simmering water and with the whisk attachment beat the batter on the medium speed until it has risen and cooled, about 8 minutes. It will become thick and almost white in color. When the batter is dropped from the whisk it should slowly dissolve back into the batter.
- Sift half the flour-cornstarch mixture onto the top of the cake batter and use a large silicone spatula to gently fold it into the batter. Once it is thoroughly combined sift the remaining flour mixture onto the top of the batter and gently fold it in until no white specks remain.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Lightly smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Bake the genoise until the top is lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 17 to 20 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven and slide a small icing spatula between the cake and edge of the pan to loosen the edge. Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes.
- Lightly brush a piece of parchment with oil and invert the cake onto the parchment and cool on a wire rack.
For the Crème Mousseline
- Place a clean bowl with a. fine mesh strainer near the stove. This bowl will be used to strain the custard when it is finished cooking.
- Whisk together the flour and the cornstarch and sift it on a piece of parchment or wax paper.
- Separate the eggs and place the egg yolk and 1 whole egg in a medium sized bowl. Save the eggs whites in another clean container and use for another dessert.
- Pour the milk in a non-reactive 4-quart saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Small bubbles will appear around the edges of the pan and steam will begin to rise from the surface.
- Add the sugar to the eggs and whisk until smooth and lemon-colored. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch mixture until thoroughly combined and no traces remain.
- Temper the eggs. Slowly pour half of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk constantly while adding the milk. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk until it is thoroughly blended.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat, and whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil, 185 degrees F. The mixture will thicken and bubbles will break the surface. If necessary, reduce the heat and continue to whisk until it comes to temperature and it no longer tastes like flour. The mixture should be very thick and smooth.
- Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl reserved for the custard and stir in 1/4 cup (50 grams) of the butter. Allow the mixture to cool before adding the butter.
- If not using the custard right away follow these steps. Line a pie plate with plastic wrap. Scrape the custard onto the plastic, smooth the top and cover with plastic and gently press the wrap into the surface. Refrigerate until ready to use the custard.
- Cream the remaining butter in a stand mixer with the wire whisk. Reduce the speed to medium and gradually add the pastry cream by the spoonful. When all the pastry cream has been added increase the speed to high and beat for 1 minute to lighten the crème mousseline.
Assemble the Fraisier Cake
- Place an 8-inch cake ring on the center of a round or square cake board. Cut the cake layer in half. It should be 1/2 to 3/4 inch high.
- Brush the surface of the cake with the lemon simple syrup. Select strawberries that are about the same size. Cut them the very top of the strawberries so it is flat. Cut the strawberries in half, place the flat top on the edge of the cake and press the flat side against the pan. Continue until the strawberries form a complete circle.
- Spread a thin layer of buttercream across the top of the cake layer. Cut the remaining strawberries in half or in quarters if very large and arrange across the top of the cake until the surface is completely cover.
- Reserve 1 cup of the mousseline buttercream for decorating the cake later. Scrape the remaining mousseline buttercream on top of the strawberries. Use an offset spatula to smooth buttercream until it is level and smooth. Refrigerate until it is firm. About 4 hours.
- If using a cake ring run a warm thin knife between the pan and the top of the buttercream all the way around. Slowly lift the ring up and smooth the sides of the buttercream
- Decorate the top of the cake with the remaining buttercream and strawberries.
How to Brulee the Cake Top
- To brulee the follow these steps before you remove the cake ring. Sprinkle the top of the cake with 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar. Hold a kitchen torch about 1-2 inches from the surface of the cake and melt the sugar. It will slowly bubble up and brown. Don’t try to brown the entire surface, but make sure all the sugar is melted.