twd: french strawberry cake

what’s not to love about a cake loaded with strawberries and whipped cream?  i can’t think of anything.  if you are smart and save the juices strained off of the macerated berries and make strawberry-basil martinis, there is even more to love.  so why the frown on my face?  one word-genoise.  they are so finicky and temperamental to make and i did not have a good time with this one.

this weeks tuesdays with dorie-baking with julia challenge, french strawberry cake-page 273, and it is hosted by sophia of sophias sweets and allison of think, love, sleep, dine.  visit their pages to read the full recipe.

 first things first, genoise.  it is a classic sponge cake and that should set off warning bells.  now don’t go jumping out a window or running away.  it is just a cake, albeit a difficult one but still a cake none the less.  follow the rules and you shall have cake.

i followed the rules.  my cake turned out like a rubber disk.

 trudging along, i poured it into the pan hoping for success. after carefully folding in the flour and melted butter, the batter seemed so thin to me and you can see that it isn’t much.  it came out of the oven like a rubber disk-i set about mixing up batch #2.

 round 2; i over whipped the eggs and stiff peaks stood stock still rather than dissolving.  i forged ahead anyway.  batch #3 worked out better.  since i have made genoise before, i knew i could omit the butter and still get a proper sponge cake.

my first attempt-a thin rubber disk that was very dense at the bottom-there was no way to get 3 layers out of this thing!

 my second attempt was over beaten and it sunk in the middle and again, i wasn’t going to get 3 layers from this cake.
third time was the charm!!!
 josie couldn’t believe it either
 first cake-very dense with a fine crumb-it went into the bird feeder.
 second cake-a little better, still a little finer crumb than i would like to have but it was a lot lighter than the first cake.

the third cake had what i think was a perfect light and open crumb that you need for a proper genoise.
the key, not over or under whipping the eggs.  that is a challenge and just because the recipe said to whip for 4-5 minutes, it’s not set in stone.  the only way to know if you have the right consistency-check the ribbon and see how long it takes to dissolve.  to get the 10 seconds, i had to whip for about 6-7 minutes.

next came the berries.  i macerated them as the recipe instructed only i added a little vanilla bean and rose water to really punch up the flavor.  the maceration process takes about 3 hours and is well worth it.  the juices that remain after assembling the cake make awesome martinis!  we made them with basil from the garden and i could have had 2 or 3 myself-luckily we ran out of the juices!!!

 the whipped cream frosting is a little different;  it has sour cream added to it to give it a little something, kinda like creme fraiche in a way.  when i whip cream, i wrap plastic around the machine to prevent splashing.

 perfect soft peaks

strain the juices off by lifting the berries out with a slotted spoon.  spread them over the top of the layer.

 a thin coat of whipped cream frosting covers the berries

 then you do it again.  finally, the third layer is placed on top and the cake is frosted all over.

i think the recipe should call for the full 2 cups of cream in the carton rather than 1 1/4 cup.  i didn’t have anything left to pipe rosettes with.  i brought the cake to a dinner-i was lucky to get a sliver of a taste-they did give me back my dirty cake plate though…

many thanks to sophia and allison for hosting, well done ladies!

11 thoughts on “twd: french strawberry cake

  1. Looks delicious! I am doing a dessert buffet for my in-law's anniversary. I'm thinking this might be a nice addition except in cupcake form. I'll have to play with it a little. 🙂


  2. Your cake looks delicious!

    The key to a perfect genoise is using your eyes, and your eyes only, to know when it is properly whipped. If you watch around the sides of the bowl, the mixer will start spitting batter around the top of the batter line. The whipping is done when the splatter looks like uniform circles. Not lines or ink blots, but perfect little circles.


  3. way back when, when i was a young pastry chef in training, i learned how to make a classic genoise. i have never forgotten how; it is like riding a bike and it just takes a minute or two to regain your balance. the purpose of the challenge is to follow the recipe as it is written in the hope of learning a new skill or trick. that is why i made the cake three times, the first time exactly as it was written, the second time was mostly like it was written and then on the third try, i chucked it all and used my own skills. the ribbon technique has merit and i have used it for more than 25 years.


  4. I love how you sliced the berries for decoration. Great idea to cover with plastic wrap – just throw it away when done – no washing the splash-guard.


  5. Great photos and beautiful cake!! I made this recipe three times, too! I think this recipe was written poorly! Your results are absolutely wonderful…great perseverance!


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