Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cream Cheese Fraisier

Oh, I know I know, it's been a long time and to whoever out there, I apologize for taking such an inexplicable long time to write anything substantial. 
These last weeks have actually been quite rich, food-wise. Amazing marbled steaks, a beautiful (and equally delicious) "Fraisier", homemade butter puff pastry, yummy Portuguese style chicken, salted cod fish cakes... and macarons... lots of macarons.
I also had the chance to visit quite a number of restaurants and eateries in Tel Aviv, some of which left me pleasantly surprised, while others literally made me fume. For all those with whom I had the pleasure of sharing a meal out, it's pretty clear that I just can't keep my thoughts to myself, either they are complementing or not. Years of working in restaurants does this to you. Once you step in a restaurant, no matter where, everything is familiar and you'll notice small details, like bits of information reconnecting you to a past experience.  You know you've been there in a way. While most have the bliss of simply having to decide whether the food is good or bad, when you worked in a restaurant, nothing is ever that simple.
It's compulsive really.
If you love food, food should love you back.

Talking about love, how's this for a start?

 Fraisier (still with the ring)

This was a highly modified version of the famous french "Fraisier", which stands for a wonderful, genoise and  mousseline cream, strawberry cake. Seriously, there's nothing not to like about it. This was made for my daughter's birthday and as always, I overestimated how much time I had and ended up cutting some corners. Fortunately, it came out both beautiful and delicious.
Ps: Because it was meant for children, I skipped the soaking liquor and because I don't really like marzipan, I left it out (though admittedly, it does help to hold the cake together more neatly). 

So lets get started!
First of, you need some material. This is mostly a cream based cake, so you'll have to get hold of a ring mould. Either those that open on the side and have a separate bottom or a simple stainless steel ring (you'll need a decorative carton bottom for this one). You can actually find the simple ring at the same place as the first link (it just doesn't show on the website). "Mistral" happens to be close to where I live, so it's convenient.
I highly recommend a simple ring. Not only are they higher, but the fact that you'll be sliding it up the cake makes for flawless results.

Cream Cheese Fraisier
There are now some amazing strawberries on the market,  so get a couple of boxes (and perhaps a third one you'll be eating as you work!).

Genoise (Pierre Herme)
140 g of flour
40g of butter
4 eggs (room temperature)
140 g of sugar

Turn your oven on at 180 degrees Celcius.
Prepare a large shallow tray with a sheet of cooking parchment, which should form a rim around the tray of about 3 cm high. Take your ring mold and check that it's size matches the tray. Later, you'll need to cut a circle of cake that will fit that same mold. 

Gently melt the butter in the microwave (or a small pan) and let it cool down a bit.
In a bowl, beat the eggs and slowly start adding the sugar. If you feel compelled to work a bit a harder, Mr. Herme recommends putting the mixing bowl over another pan of nearly boiling water (a technique called "bain marie"). I almost never do it and still get very reasonable results.
Anyway you go about it,  keep beating the hell out of it. After about 10 minutes it will triple it's original volume.
Stop mixing, and using a spatula, gently start to fold in the butter and the flour. Just fold, don't stir! When the flour is well mixed in, pour half of the batter on the prepared tray and spread it with the spatula until it's about 2 cm thick. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until nice and golden.
Slide the cake with it's parchment paper on the counter top and put another cooking sheet. Cook the second half of the batter.
After you let it cool down a bit, use your ring mold as a cookie cutter (another reason why I prefer the simple rings). Cut 2 circles of cake. Keep aside.

Now is a good time to prep your strawberries. Separate them in three bowls:
a. the really pretty ones - 2 should be enough
b. The big even sized ones - cut in vertical slices (4 mm thick).
c. The not so pretty ones - chop coarsely

Cream Cheese Filling
1 package of Philadelphia cream cheese
2 small boxes of liquid whipping cream (very cold) - guessing they were about 150 ml each
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of powdered gelatin (dissolved in a little bit of warm water)
Red food coloring (opt)

Beat the cream until it forms nice stiff peaks (careful not to overdo it).
Now beat the cream cheese with the sugar, vanilla extract and a bit of red food coloring (you just want a hint of pink).
Dissolve the gelatin in a little bit of warm water and quickly add it to the cream cheese.
Carefully fold the cream cheese with the whipped cream.

Vanilla Syrup
1/2 cup of water
2 cup of sugar
vanilla extract

Mix everything and bring to boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Let it cool.

Now for the fun part:
Place your ring in whatever plate you're planning to serve your Fraisier on and put a circle of cake at the bottom. Sprinkle a good amount of vanilla syrup directly on the cake.
Take your B strawberries and stick them neatly to the inside of the ring (see the next picture for a better idea). Now pour 1/2 of the cream, making sure it gets everywhere. Sprinkle your C strawberries on top. Pour half the remaining cream and top with the second circle of cake, give it also a good sprinkling of syrup. Pour the rest of the cream you have, to cover the top of the cake. Even it out nicely with a spatula.
Now is the time to let it set. I recommend leaving it in the fridge until the next day. This will allow the flavors to blend with each other. If you are in too much of a hurry, like I was, put it in the freezer for an a couple of hours.
When ready to serve, decorate with the rest of your A and B strawberries.
One thing I would certainly like to try on another occasion, is to add a bit of pureed strawberries in the
 the cream (instead of food coloring). Yum. I'll leave it up to you to give it a try! 

 Fraisier (ringless)


  1. This cake is very pretty and look professional!
    Naomi said we must have a daughter now to make her this cake too. *chuckle*

  2. My daughter loves strawberries, so this was perfect. The second she saw it, she nabbed the strawberries on top before we even sang her happy birthday!