Cardamom Flavoured Matcha And Mango Frasier : Daring Bakers Challenge July, 2011
I’ve discovered there are a lot of Western desserts that share names with (or seem to be named after) people. I always used to think that most of these desserts like the Charlotte, Madeleines, Crepes Suzette, Apple Brown Betty, Poire Belle Helene (after an opera of the same name), the Victoria sponge (after Queen Victoria) seem to be named after women. Further study into the matter threw up desserts named after men too. There is the Napolean (perhaps after the emperor) and the Battenburg cake (after 4 princes of that name), the Gâteau Saint-Honoré (French patron saint of bakers, confectioners, and pastry chefs, Saint Honoré / Bishop of Amiens), the Runeberg Cake (after Finnish poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg) and the list goes on.
When Jana announced she wanted us to make a Fraisier, that was the first I had heard of that dessert. That’s right, Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers host and she challenged us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.
So I thought, here’s another one of those cakes that’s named after someone. I was sure there was going to be an interesting story about some guy who had a lot of fruit, eggs and cream on his hands and decided to create some sweet magic with them. Turns out that “fraisier” is French for strawberries!
So the Gâteau Fraisier is a layered strawberry cake. The cake is made of two layers of sponge between which are sandwiched sliced strawberries and pastry cream, and then topped with a thin layer of almond paste/ marzipan. What distinguishes a fraisier cake visually is the beautifully arranged layer of sliced strawberries which forms a pattern on the outside of the cake.
I almost didn’t do this challenge but the words “whipped cream” in the recipe caught my daughter’s attention (she loves the stuff!) and the look on her face and the statement that “She was always ready to eat dessert that looked like that!” meant that I started reading the challenge yesterday morning.
I stuck to the given recipes but adapted them a bit. I couldn’t make a “true” fraisier because strawberry season, here, is still about 6 months away. It is still the season for mangoes so I decided to make what would technically be a Gateau Mangue (am I correct?)
I read somewhere that while making a sponge/ chiffon cake, I could use equal number of whites and yolks, if I didn’t want to waste the extra yolks from more egg whites, so I used 3 egg whites and yolks. I flavoured my pastry cream with cardamom and used agar to set the pastry cream.
My sister had brought me some matcha powder on her last visit, so I used some of that in my sponge cake and since Finla had sent me some readymade almond paste/ marzipan, this was the perfect chance to use that as well.
The challenge in itself wasn’t all that difficult as it entailed making a sponge cake and splitting into two, making pastry cream some sugar syrup, chopping up fruit and putting it all together. For me the difficult part was assembling the cake.
I realised I didn’t have a springform pan of required size and had to use my regular cake tin. I got around this by lining it with cling wrap which made the unmoulding a bit easier but somewhat messy. The rains here have brought down temperatures but it is still warm enough to make the pastry cream (with whipped cream) soften once it was outside the fridge! And the humidity was threatening to make my sponge cake sticky!
Still I triumphed even though I did not have a professionally finished cake, but then I consoled myself that I was a home baker and not running a patisserie (not that I wouldn’t like to)!! You can find the original challenge recipe here, and what follows is the my adapted version.
For the Matcha Chiffon Cake :
For the Cardamom Flavoured Pastry Cream :
For the Simple Sugar Syrup :
Assembling The Cardamom Flavoured Matcha And Mango Frasier :
- For the Matcha Chiffon Cake, line the bottom of an 8” (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. Keep aside 3 tbsps of sugar, and add the remaining sugar and the salt. Stir to combine.
- In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly. Pour this into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
- Beat the egg whites with a hand held mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add the lemon juice 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 1/3rd 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 at 160C (325F) for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove 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.
- For the Cardamom Flavoured Pastry Cream, pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and bring it to a near boiling point, while stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, using a hand held mixer on slow speed, combine the cornstarch, cardamom and sugar in a bowl. Add the eggs to this and whisk until smooth.
- When the milk is ready, gently and slowly, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture, with the hand held mixer running. Pour this 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 it 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 pan, heat the 2 tbsps of water till almost boiling. Sprinkle the agar flakes, turn off the heat and keep stirring with a spoon till all the agar dissolves. Put back on the stove and heat if necessary to dissolve the agar completely.
- Take a little water (about two inches) in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Measure 1/4 cup 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 pastry cream until it is quite warm but not very hot. Add the dissolved agar and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.
- With a hand held mixer, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.
- For the Simple Sugar Syrup, 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. Boil for about a minute, then add the lime juice. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
- Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. This syrup can be stored for up to one month.
- Assembling The Cardamom Flavoured Matcha And Mango Frasier - Line the sides of a 9”spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan. (I used a cake tin so I lined the whole thing with cling wrap.
- Now cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers of equal thickness. If you refrigerate the cake for about an hour, cutting it becomes easier. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the sugar syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
- Peel the mangoes and from two of them cut two thin slices from each side of each mango (a total of 4 slices from each mango = 8 slices). Cut out desired shapes from each slice using a sharp cookie cutter. Chop into pieces the remaining flesh from the 2 mangoes and the third mango and keep aside.
- Arrange the mango shapes at eaqual distance from each other against the sides of the cake pan all the way around. Pipe cream in-between the mango shapes and a thin layer across the top of the cake. Now place the chopped mango pieces in a layer over the cake. Cover the mango pieces entirely with the all but 1 tbsp of the pastry cream. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the sugar syrup.
- Knead the almond paste/ marzipan with the colour so it is uniformly yellow. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar and roll out the almond paste to a 9”round about 1/16” thick. Spread the remaining 1 tbsp 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. Just before serving lightly sprinkle the matcha powder on top and then the silver dragees.
I’m happy I managed to do this challenge because we found this to be a light and airy dessert, taste-wise, though my daughter didn’t quite like the taste of matcha. I personally liked the idea of incorporating fresh fruit into a dessert of this kind. My mangoes were sweet with a tang so my fraisier wasn’t too sweet.
It’s a great make-ahead that isn’t too difficult to make. One can use whatever fruit is in season and pair it up with complimentary flavours in the chiffon cake and the pastry cream to create a dessert that is pleasing to the eye and the tongue. For really good ideas on making beautiful fraisiers do take a look at what my fellow bakers have done.