“I’ve got a problem,” said my friend.
“I’m listening”, I replied, in the words of the eponymous hero of my favourite 1990s TV show about a Seattle psychiatrist.
The problem was really not that bad – it was her husband’s birthday (very nice) and we were going to celebrate by going out to dinner en masse with a whole crowd of church friends (very festive) and the restaurant had said we could bring our own cake (very accommodating) but she was having to spend the Saturday earmarked for birthday cake baking at one of those compulsory training sessions they make doctors have before they, you know, save lives. Anyway, I was lying on the sofa when she called, watching a DVD following the hilarious misadventures of a radio psychiatrist and his family…basically, it was the perfect opportunity to have a go at baking my very own fruitcake.
Since this happened, the Great British Bake Off included a Fraisier as one of the showstopper challenges, and in other news, we moved to another low-ceilinged house, I got made redundant and then found another job, and my lovely generous dad bought us a fancy oven.
Recipe: Strawberry Fraisier Cake
I really enjoyed making this – as normal, from an amalgam of internet recipes, but mostly from this Rowley Leigh one. As far as I can see there are several variations. I chose a genoise sponge and a creme patisserie filling.
And it was really fun – it seemed a bit daunting but actually was mostly just an assembly job:
30g unsalted butter
90g caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla essence
90g flour (I happened to have some sponge flour so used that, but to be honest it was so old that it was probably effectively to plain flour)
pinch of orange zest (optional)
Preheat oven to 190°C.
1. Line and grease a 20cm springform tin.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave in a small bowl.
3. In a large pyrex bowl placed over a small saucepan of boiling water (on the hob), beat the eggs and sugar together with a hand held whisk until about twice the volume, creamy and pale. Lifting the mixer out should leave a “ribbon” of mixture across the surface. The mixture should not get too hot – you should be able to touch it comfortably.
4. Add vanilla and orange zest, remove from heat and continue to beat until cool.
5. Sieve in the flour all at once and fold in gently but quickly, using a rubber spatula and figure-of-eight motion, until completely incorporated.
6. Pour in butter and mix in quickly with the spatula.
7. Scrape batter into prepared tin and bake for 20-25 mins (should be springy in the centre). Turn out onto rach and leave to cool before using a serrated bread knife to carefully slice into two (easiest to cut into the centre and trun the cake, making radial cuts all the way around).
250ml milk (ideally whole milk)
3 egg yolks
25g plain flour
The method is the same as for the filling in the Chocolate Layer Cake as described here:
3 gelatine leaves (or enough to set c. 500ml)
Syrup (made by heating 50g granulated sugar with the juice of an orange made up to 50ml with water, until dissolved)
700g strawberries, chopped
200ml double cream
150g white marzipan
green food colouring
1. Cover ring of springform tin completely in cling film and place half of cake cut side up inside the ring on serving plate
2. Pour half of the syrup evenly onto the sponge
3. Making sure the strawberries are dry, hull and halve the most attractive and place them cut side out on the sponge in a ring. Reserve a few halves for decoration and hull and chop the remaining strawberries.
4. Prepare the gelatine according to the instructions, and whisk into the pastry cream
5. Whip the double cream to stiff peaks in a large bowl and mix together with the pastry cream
6. Use a spatula to spread a layer of cream (about 1/3) over the cake and in between the strawberries, filling as much as possible
7. Add the chopped strawberries to the rest of the cream and use to fill the springform ring, smoothing the top with the spatula
8. Carefully place the second half of the cake onto the top, and sprinkle the rest of the syrup evenly over it. Using the base of the tin or another flat thing, like a chopping board, gently compress the cake so that the cream fills the sides of the tin
9. Break up the marzipan and knead it with a few drops of food colouring to make it a delicate green
10. Roll out marzipan (dusting surfaces and rolling pin with icing sugar) and drape over the rolling pan to cover the cake. Trim and excess, and refrigerate the cake for at least four hours until serving.
To serve: carefully remove the tin (hold your breath!) place the reserved strawberries on the top and let your friend write her husband’s nickname on the top in chocolate.