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Friday Tip & Daring Bakers Twofer!|Cheap Food Molds and Fresh Fraisiers

So am I late or what?  No Friday tip last week and three days behind with my Daring Bakers post.  What’s going on? (No need to point out that it’s now Saturday, thanks)

I’m in Alabama, where the weather is hot and life moves a little slower.  Plus I’m at an economics conference, so I’ve been kind of busy.  Apparently too busy to do a Friday tip or post my Daring Bakers on time.

Oh!  Before I forget…the bot words:

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.

So…first things first.  This was a lovely cake.  I will admit that I didn’t really make it the way you’re supposed to make it.  For one thing, I didn’t use marzipan.  I don’t like marzipan, and it’s expensive, so I didn’t use it.  Everything else was more or less like the recipe.  Which my husband said tasted just like strawberry shortcake.

And that’s great, because he likes strawberry shortcake.

There wasn’t much difficult in making this recipe – it’s a little labor-intensive for something that is essentially strawberry shortcake, but it’s pretty and very nice to eat.  Especially the pastry cream.  Light but still kind of decadent and quite delicious.  Great choice Jana!

So the recipe is below, in case you’re tempted to make your own fresh fraisier.  But I also wanted to offer up a tip, since it’s still relatively close to Friday.

You know when you see those cute cakes that look like they are made just for one or two people?  Or those stacked and layered appetizers?  Well, you need a mold and/or a cutter to make those, unless you want to buy a bunch of small pans specifically for this purpose.  And I needed one for this challenge.

Well, I didn’t really need a mold.  I needed a spring form pan.  But I didn’t have one and I wasn’t going to buy one just for a challenge.  I love the DBs, but I don’t have a lot of extra cash or room in my kitchen.

Enter the repurposed tin can.

As long as the can doesn’t have any rings in it, it will work.  The cake pictured below was made using a half recipe of German chocolate cake batter in a small sheet pan, using a large can that used to contain tomatoes as a cutter.  The can made perfect, uniformly round layers.

I used the crab can to make the challenge.  Instead of buying mini spring form pans, I just used the can as a template to cut a tall circle out of a cake that was baked in a regular loaf pan.  Once the cake was cut and split, I used the bottom layer of the cake to push a layer of saran wrap flat on the bottom of the can (so it could be lifted out later).  Worked like a charm.

If you need to be able to push the cake/appetizer/whatever out through the bottom, make sure you can remove both end of the can.  Simple, right?  And the best part?  You can just recycle the can and don’t need to store more additional specialty equipment!  Need to make another cake?  Just use the next can of tomatoes!

Hope that’s helpful!

Cheers.

Fresh Fraisiers (notes by Miss Jana)

Notes: The gelatin will continue to stiffen day by day. The longer you let your finished cake sit, the more firm it will become. Also, I prefer to assemble the cake on the platter it will be displayed on, some people do not, but I recommend placing the bottom layer on the platter, then affixing the cling wrap lined spring form pan around the bottom layer. It saves the hassle of trying to move the cake after assembly.

Mandatory Items: You must make a cake with exposed fruits, edible flowers, etc. around the sides of the center layer. You must make all components (cake, pastry cream mousse, simple syrup) from scratch. You may not make a trifle. It must be a free-standing cake on a platter.

Variations allowed: Have fun with this idea! I love creativity so feel free to mix up the strawberries for other fruits or edible flowers, freeze the mousse as an ice cream etc. Making a cake, a filling, maintaining the structure of the cake with the exposed fruits is mandatory, but the flavors and methods should be just plain fun! I am providing you with a basic chiffon cake and many alterations (lemon, orange, coconut, and chocolate) to it! You may be as creative or traditional as you like! For the Vegan and Gluten-Free crowd I have provided links at the end to help with the portions of the recipe that will not suffice.

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.

Equipment required:

● 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
● whisk
● rubber spatula
● toothpick
● butter knife
● heavy sauce pan
● fine mesh sieve
● small dish
● 2 small sauce pans
● small stainless steel bowl or double boiler
● pastry bag

Basic Chiffon Cake:

Ingredients:
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
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
  2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
  3. 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.
  4. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
  5. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  10. 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:

Gluten Free! Vegans see the links at the end!

Ingredients:
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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
  3. Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
  7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
  8. 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.
  9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
  10. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

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.

Ingredients:
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

Directions:

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
  3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
  4. 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:

Components:
1 baked 8 inch (20 cm) chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs (900 g) strawberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste

Directions:

  1. Line the sides of a 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
  2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
  6. 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.
  7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
  8. 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.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  10. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
  11. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

One Comment

  1. Blog Rehab says:

    Great blog! Found you in the comments to Guestblogger.com. Jon has a hundred more until/if he gets to mine. Do you feel like you’ve been blessed by the Pope of blogging? Wish me luck!

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