Friday, July 29, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge: Peach-Blueberry Fraisier

Peach-Blueberry Fraisier

This challenge makes me think of two old sayings...1) Bad things come in threes. 2) When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. To be honest, I've had a number of caketastrophies lately. Allow me to suffice it to the fact that gravity appeared to greater than normal for the cakes I've made lately. No, they weren't falling in the sense that you think of a fallen cake or fallen bread. Instead the cakes or their elements made extreme attempts at not staying contained as desired. Please note: the cakes survived all their literal falls. Cakes were not damaged but it sure was stressful. For one cake, the pan fell from my hands to the floor. The bottom of the pan hit the floor, the cake was so shaken in the process that it broke into 15 pieces but stayed in the cake pan. I pulled the pieces out, cooled them and then reassembled them atop a piece of parchment paper in the cake pan. After chilling together in the form in the fridge, they came out as what looked like a normal cake. I set it on the bottom and no one could even tell.

This cake happened to be the three in my set of 3's. It was a doozy. First, the curd tried to stick in the pot the first time. I saved it but made the fatal error of later underwhipping my whipped cream. (I've whipped a lot of cream at this point so this was very rare.) I didn't realize it was because the cream had gotten warm while waiting on me to do other things and warming cream loses its stifness. As I added the curd I panicked about the cream and stuck the beaters in there. The pastry cream broke (formed tons of tiny ugly curds) and was no longer usable.

Continuing on I worked on the cake. Five egg problem. I had some in the freezer for just such an occasion. I beat my eggs whites to the point of being perfect. As I cut off the hand mixer, it unexpectedly jolted and shot the beaten egg whites' bowl off the counter and upside down on the floor. I was upset. I hate wasting food, especially egg whites for some reason. However, when I flipped the bowl, I discovered that it wasn't as big a problem as I'd thought. The whites were so stiff that they remained firmly stuck in the bowl. Whew!

I baked the cake and it looked soooo tall. Yay!

Mmmm Lemon Chiffon Cake.
The lemon flavor was stronger before the simple syrup was added during assembly.

I made the pastry cream a second time and it looked fine! Yay!

No curds here! This pastry cream was delicious.

I realized that somehow after making the simple syrup that it had been confused for water and tossed. Arg. No problem, its just sugar and water. I remade it quickly and went to bed.

The next morning, assembly was a cinch. I realized partway through that I really would've preferred to have a double batch of pastry cream. The broken one didn't look gorgeous but it tasted fine so I subbed just enough in to take care of the problem.

(My apologies, I really thought I took some assembly photos. Apparently, I didn't. Imagine slicing the cake in half, sticking half in the bottom of a spring form pan, and pouring simple syrup (sugar water) over it. Then lining the wall of the pan with plastic wrap and arranging fruit on the outer border, securing the fruits' positions with pastry cream and filling the middle with pastry cream and fruit once the border was complete. Follow that up with the other cake half on top with more simple syrup. Top it all off with a layer of rolled out almond paste and chill 4 hours. The final product was decorated with powdered sugar and more fresh peach slices and blueberries.)

Top view. The yellowish/beige colored material is almond paste.
It can come in a tube or a can and you roll it out into a shape.

If I reattempted this in the future, I'd double the pastry cream.

I assembled everything and got to the almond paste...I wondered how it would taste. I'm not typically an almond flavoring fan. With this cake, it worked but I wouldn't mind having a different flavored paste on top. For those who haven't worked with almond paste before its like a stiff modeling clay. Honestly, its not unlike the feel of the chocolate dough I made for the May challenge to create a tree. I think you could probably use "white chocolate" and add lemon flavor and zest to get a lemon flavored topping for the lemon lover's. Perhaps if making chocolate a semi sweet chocolate dough would be in order. Flavors could be bumped around by adding raspberry juice to the chocolate mixture, if desired.

I think the recipe has a lot of potential but its tough to take somewhere in heat. Mike, Rebecca, and I enjoyed it after watching Harry Potter. I shared some with other friends throughout the week and it was enjoyed by all. The pastry cream filling was a crowd favorite. I found myself wanting more bold lemon flavor but Mike and Rebecca preferred the light lemon flavor and really enjoyed the taste of the almond paste on top. I rather liked the almond there too. Thanks for a unique challenge!

Tada! Isn't it pretty?

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.

Peach Blueberry Fraisier

Prep Time: At least 4 hours for all the components
Refrigeration time: 4 hours
Total Time: At least 8 hours.

Preparation time: The traditional recipe I am providing can be made in stages. As a whole the recipe requires at least 4 hours of time, and 4 hours of refrigeration, BUT the cake, pastry cream and syrup can be made days ahead of assembly to help ease the time burden. Once these three are made, the cake will take about half an hour to assemble followed by 4 hours of refrigeration.

Suggested Equipment:

measuring cups and spoons for liquid and dry ingredients
cutting board & knife to prepare the fruit
electric mixer or stand mixer
wooden spoon
rolling pin
plastic wrap
parchment paper
cooling rack
serving platter of your choice
8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan
2 large mixing bowls
small mixing bowl
rubber spatula
butter knife
heavy sauce pan
fine mesh sieve
small dish
2 small sauce pans
small stainless steel bowl or double boiler
pastry bag

Lemon Chiffon Cake:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder
3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water
1 Tbsp (15 ml) (12 gm) lemon zest, grated (really just the zest from one lemon)
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar
Add 1/8 cup (30 ml) lemon juice
Increase lemon zest to 1½ teaspoon (7½ ml) (5 gm)


Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
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.
Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
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: (double this to have enough)

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) (¼ gm) salt, preferably kosher
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm)cornstarch
1/4 cup (60 ml) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (4 gm) gelatin
1/2 tablespoon (7½ ml) water
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) heavy cream


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. Pay close attention to the temp here. If it gives you peace of mind, take care of the cornstarch, sugar and egg mixture before dealing with scalding the milk. This may cost short term time BUT it will save you from repeating the process.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine.
Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
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.
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.
Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
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.
In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
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.
Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). 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.
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. Whatever you do, do not whisk this mixture together or it will break into tiny curds rather than maintaining smooth creaminess.

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 (60 ml) of fruit juice or liqueur while the syrup is cooling.

1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water


Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
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 (20 cm) chiffon cake
1 or 2 recipes pastry cream filling (I think 2 works out a bit better.)
⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs (900 g) strawberries (or 2 peaches and half a cup of blueberries.)
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste (optional but tasty)


Line the sides of a 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
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.
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.
Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
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. (15 ml) of the pastry cream.
Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar and roll out the almond paste to a 10-inch (25 cm) round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  1. So pretty! Was the almond paste easily accessible?

  2. @ Melanie: Thank you! Yes the almond paste was available at Harris Teeter (larger supermarket) and Whole Foods (organic/specialty grocery). Look in the baking aisle for either a tube in a box or a can. I think it was slightly cheaper at Whole Foods but its about $6-7 per container. I only used half and froze the rest.