Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fraisier/French-style strawberry cake

Here's a lighter version of the popular French gateaux, Fraisier.

Fraisier comes from the French word fraise meaning strawberry. It is basically made with mousseline cream (pastry cream blended with softened butter), sponge (genoise or joconde), strawberries and traditionally decorated with marzipan.

In this lighter version, I used diplomat cream which is made of pastry cream mixed with whipped cream rather than mousseline cream. This is not as stable as the one with mousseline especially during hot summer months.

This is another one of my East meets West cake, a not-so classic French gateaux with a Japanese twist by adding matcha to the joconde sponge.

I made two-thirds of the joconde sponge but I think my meringue is not firm enough so when I folded it to the almond mixture, it deflated. To add insult to the injury, the bottom of the baked sponge has some shallow tunnel running here and there tsk tsk! I should have made the full recipe.....

The sponge in mini gateaux is actually scraps that I patched up to fit in the 3-inch mould because there's still enough leftover cream.

The pastry cream has some gelatine added to make the diplomat a bit firmer. You should also take into consideration the pastry cream-whipped cream ratio, the more whipped cream added to the pastry cream, the firmer the texture. I used 500 grams pastry cream and 320 grams whipping cream to make this diplomat cream and the texture is good enough to pipe. If you want a more stable diplomat cream, do a 1:1 ratio. Update: Not sure about the 1:1 ratio but more pastry cream (with gelatine) and less cream is much better. 

When making this gateaux, set aside a bit of leftover diplomat cream, about 1 tablespoon for patching up the sides of the cakes just in case there are some unfilled gaps/holes after you un-mould it.

Note that after un-moulding the cake, some of the berries will be covered with thin film of diplomat cream. To make it more presentable, use a pairing knife and gently scrape the cream off or use a paper kitchen towel and gently blot it off. 

For the strawberries, you need berries with almost the same size. If using a mousse ring with 2-inch height, the base of berries should be about 1-inch and each sponge should be 1.5-cm thick. The height of the ring that I used in one cake (5x2-inch round) though is not enough to add the jelly so if you have cake acetate sheets, line the side 1/2 inch higher.

I used 3 different mousse ring/mould sizes in making these cakes. The one without the jelly glaze is 5x2-inch round, 5x3-inch square and the mini using a 3x2 3/4-inch moulds. You can of course, use an 8 or 9-inch mousse ring, preferably with 2 1/2-inch height but need to bake 1.5 of the sponge recipe.

The glaze is a must if you want your berries to look shiny. Of course, on their own, berries are pretty enough. You can probably make a homemade shiny glaze out of a packaged jelly powder, preferably strawberry-flavoured , just reduced the amount of water so that the glaze will be thick.

For the decorations, beside the whole and sliced berries, I added edible flowers which are actually pretty tasteless and a tad expensive, 12 pieces for HK$40., but from the look of them the price is so worth it! lol 

The "crumb shot" photo below is actually from my previous gateaux (different pastry cream recipe and freeze-dried strawberry powder is added to the diplomat cream) as I was just too lazy to take photo of it for this batch.

Joconde sponge, recipe adapted from Pâtisserie

125 grams icing sugar, sifted
4 grams matcha powder, sifted
125 grams ground almonds
38 grams plain flour, sifted
162 grams whole eggs, about 3-4 egss
28 grams butter, melted
100 grams egg whites, about 3 eggs
1 tsp calamansi/lime/lemon juice or cream of tartar
30 grams caster sugar

* Please check how-to here

* Chill in the fridge until needed.

I made 2/3 of the recipe and baked in 12-inch square tin

Pastry cream, recipe adapted from The Advanced Art of Baking and Pastry

454 grams milk
56 grams caster sugar
36 grams egg yolks
50 grams whole egg
36 grams cornstarch
56 grams caster sugar
28 grams butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, keep the pod for other use
5 grams gelatine sheets, softened for 5-10 minutes, excess water squeezed off

* In a small saucepan, combine milk, sugar and vanilla seeds and bring to a boil.

* In a small mixing bowl, beat the yolks and whole egg until thickens.

* Pour hot milk gradually over eggs, whisking as you pour to prevent the eggs from curdling. Pour milk-egg mixture back into the saucepan, let mixture boil, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat for 3 min or until mixture is thick. Turn off heat and add in the softened gelatine, stir until completely melted.

* Take pan off heat, add in softened butter, stir until well combined.

* Pour cream on a shallow pan and cover with plastic wrap directly on cream to prevent skin from forming. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Diplomat cream:

500 grams pastry cream
320 grams whipping cream, whipped

* Take out pastry cream from the fridge and let stand at room temperature until it softens enough to stir easily. Stir pastry cream until smooth, set aside.

* Whip cream until medium or nearly stiff peaks.

* Fold whipped cream into the softened pastry cream. Chill in the fridge until needed.

Strawberries, 500 grams and some extra for decorations.

* Wash and pat dry strawberries and cut out the base.

Raspberry jelly:

100 grams raspberry puree
30 grams caster sugar
5 grams gelatine sheets, soaked in cold water for 5-10 minutes, excess water squeezed off

* Combine puree and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, make sure that the sugar in completely melted. Turn off heat and add in softened gelatine, stir until well combined. Pour in a small bowl, set aside.

Make this jelly while the cakes are chilling in the fridge.


* Cut out two 5-inch square and two 5-inch round sponge using the mousse rings, save the scraps for the 3-inch mini cake. Place ring with the sponge inside on top of a cake holder and place it on the baking sheet.

* Place one sponge at the base of one mousse ring.

* Place some diplomat cream on piping bag and pipe a thin layer on the sponge base.

* Place strawberries along the sides of the ring and pipe in cream to fill in the gaps, add in more strawberries in the middle. Pipe more cream to cover the berries and use an offset spatula to gently push down the cream all over to prevent air pockets. Smooth the cream and place in the other sponge, gently push down the sponge, pipe in more cream to cover the sponge. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before adding in the jelly.

* Save a bit of diplomat cream to patch the sides of the cakes just in case there are some small holes/air pockets after un-moulding.

* Chill overnight.


45 grams neutral glaze
14 grams drinking water

* Combine glaze and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Brush berries while glaze is hot.

Un-moulding and decorations:

* Ran a hair dryer along the sides of the mousse ring for a minute or 2 to unmould the cake.

* Place back cake in the fridge and chill for at about 30 minutes.

* If there are some holes/air pockets along the sides of the cakes, fill holes with the reserved diplomat cream using a small offset spatula and smooth it out. Gently srcape off the thin film of cream on the surface of the strawberries using a small pairing knife or wipe with paper kitchen towel. Chill for another 1 hour before serving.

* Decorate top with whole and sliced berries and garnish with edible flowers and mints.

* Slice and serve.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Matcha-strawberry tart

The only thing I love about summer nowadays is the abundance of cheap seasonal fruits that usually trickle in Hong Kong from different parts of the world. Mangoes, lychees, cherries and of course, strawberries! Okay, these berries may look sweet and juicy but almost of all them, well, are a bit tart- no pun intended! 

Not that I'm complaining! I love the flavour contrast of tart berries with the rich and almost sweet filling.

This is 3-layer tart, 4, if you count the berries- the matcha pâte sablée base, almond-pistachio cream and créme diplomat. 

This is a sablée with almond powder added, not only it adds a delicious flavour, it makes the base sturdy and not prone to breakage. The recipe below is my tweaked version from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts book. The tart dough was actually too soft and not really sure if it was the too hot ambient temperature or I added too much butter or egg to the mixture. As I always chill my tart dough overnight, I don't really have a problem with too soft sweet pastry dough. The pastry dough  of this tart wasn't blind baked first but baked together with the almond cream.

I'm not fond of almond cream, there's something almost meaty with the taste and was ambivalent at first whether to use it on this tart. Good thing I gave it another chance heh! I think the added pistachio paste tone down the meatiness so as the strong almond flavour. Maybe it helps that I reduced the amount of almonds.....

For the créme diplomat layer, it was supposed to be a pastry cream but when I looked at the amount, it can hardly cover the almond cream! Note that the original recipe use a 9-inch tart ring and for this tart, I used a fluted 24 cm (9 1/3-inch) tart pan which is a tad bigger. So I added some whipped cream to the pastry cream to make a substantial amount thus the créme diplomat.

Tart crust will stay crisp throughout the day, okay, more the sides than the bottom crust. Surprisingly, the next day, crust still have this delightfully crisp texture, maybe it's those extra liquids that I added.....

So, what are the seasonal produce in your side of the world right now?! 

Matcha shortcrust pastry:

80 grams cold butter, cubed
80 grams cake flour
50 grams plain flour
5 grams matcha powder
30 grams almond powder
60 grams icing/powdered sugar
1 grams fine sea salt
30 grams lightly beaten egg

* Place cubed butter in a bowl, sift in the 2 flours, matcha powder, almond powder and salt; if there are some small almond pieces sitting on the sieve, tip it into the rest of the mixture. Rub mixture together until it resembles a fine breadcrumbs. Gently knead pastry dough 4 to 6 times and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and flatten into a 5-inch square, chill overnight.

* Lightly butter a 24-cm/ 9x1-inch fluted tart pan/tin.

* Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into 3-mm thick, it should be 1-inch wider than the tart tin. If you feel that the pastry dough is a bit soft, chill in the fridge for few minutes. Peel the top parchment off the dough, put the tart tin on top and turn it up side down. With the parchment paper on top, gently press the dough along the sized and top of the tin, also smoothing the bottom part. Gently peel off the parchment on top of the dough. Freeze for an hour.

Almond-pistachio cream:

60 grams butter, diced, at room temp
60 grams caster sugar
50 grams almond powder
25 grams pistachio paste (homemade or store-bought)
50 grams lightly beaten egg

* Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Beat softened butter with spatula or a wooden spoon until creamy. Add the sugar, almond powder, pistachio paste and egg; beat until mixture is smooth. Pipe or pipe mixture on top of the frozen base of the tart .

* Bake for 30-35 or until almond cream is golden. Let cool completely.

Pastry cream, make this a day or few hours ahead

125 grams (UHT) whole milk
25 grams caster sugar
25 grams egg yolks
12 grams cornstarch
20 grams butter, softened
1 grams gelatine leaf/sheet (optional)

* Soak gelatine in cold water for about 5 minutes; squeeze off  excess water and set aside.

* In a small saucepan, bring milk and half of the sugar into a boil.

* Meanwhile, whisk yolks and the remaining sugar until light and creamy, sift in the cornstarch and mix until smooth. Gradually add in the heated milk, whisking as you pour to prevent scrambling the yolks. Pour back mixture back into the saucepan, bring into the boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes, still whisking.

* Take pan off heat, add in the softened gelatine and stir until completely melted. Add in the butter and mix thoroughly. Transfer cream into a shallow bowl or a rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap over the surface, let cool. Chill for few hours or overnight.

Créme diplomat:

1 quantity of pastry cream, recipe above
75 grams cream, whipped

* Take out pastry cream from the fridge and whisk until smooth, fold in the whipped cream.

To assemble the tart:

about 500 grams fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 2 pieces
some pistachio kernels
small amount of heated apricot jam, for glazing the berries
some mint leaves, optional

* Pipe or spread the créme diplomat over the cooled tart crust. Arrange berries on top of the tart, and brush berries with apricot jam. Sprinkle pistachio kernels on top. Chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.

* Slice and serve. Best eaten the same day it's made.