Monday 16 February 2015

Fraisier-French Strawberry Gâteau

This Valentine's day completed 5 blissful years of my marriage with my best friend, my soulmate Vishal. Time has certainly flown by and it seems like just yesterday that we had limited time to spend with each other. We kept our distant relationship alive on letters and stuck by each others choice even with family's disapproval. It is really amazing to think back of those days and imagine at the conviction we had in each other. I guess that is the reason we were united with our family's blessings. And what better day for that!
Valentine's day is also my in-laws anniversary and therefore the choice of date for our marriage. My parents had no objection to it but since we had a Gurudwara wedding, it was important that it should be a Sunday. Sikh weddings rituals take place in the morning and Sunday being a holiday for all is naturally the most convenient day to invite people. Believe it or not 14 Feb 2010 was a Sunday!
With such a mushy story, I needed a mushy cake for the grand 5 year celebration. This particular cake caught my fancy as it more of the technique in assembly than the bake in itself. A fairly simple method with lovely results, is exactly what I wanted for the anniversary celebrations. Fraisier is a gâteau which has structure made up of strawberries and pastry cream supported by thin layers of sponge. The fraisier gets its name from the french word “fraise” which means strawberry. Traditionally this cake has a marzipan top. The elements can be made few days in advance which makes it easier to just assemble it a day before required. 
My maiden attempt, thankfully, went off well and once the gateau was out on a plate to be photographed, my daughter Vaanya kept pulling me asking for the chocolate decorations. With some hurried pictures, the gateau was all hers. There is no joy comparable to the one you get when you see your tiny one enjoy what you have made. Vaanya was all over the cake licking off the cream, pinching off the chocolate decorations and pulling the strawberry slices from its place. 

Ingredients : For a 6" round gâteau

Genoise cake:
  • 2 eggs
  • 25 gms butter, at room temperature
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup self raising flour (substitute with 1/2 cup all purpose flour+3/4 tsp baking powder+1/8 tsp salt)
Pastry Cream filling:
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 egg (beat one egg in a bowl and use half the quantity)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp gelatin
  • 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream
Sugar syrup :
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
You will also require:
  • 9-10 strawberries
  • Chocolate decorations
Procedure : 

Genoise : 
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Grease and line a 6" round baking tin.
Place sugar, eggs and lemon zest in a bowl and place it over a pan of simmering water as a double boiler. Take care that the water should not touch the bowl of eggs. 
Whisk the mixture over medium heat till it doubles in volume. You will know the right stage once the mixture forms a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted.
Sift in 1/2 of the flour and gently fold in the whisked mixture with a metal spoon. 
Add the remaining flour and fold again.
Gently fold in the butter. 
Pour the mixture in the prepared tin.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow to cool and cut cake in half.

Pastry Cream filling:
Pour milk, vanilla extract and salt in a saucepan.
Place over medium heat and stir. Bring it to a near boiling point.
Add cornstarch and sugar in another bowl and whisk.
When milk is ready, gently and slowly add to the egg mixture and stir simultaneously. 
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook over low heat till it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Pass through a fine mesh and allow to cool.
Whisk in the butter. 
Cover cream with a plastic wrap pressing on top of cream to avoid skin formation.
Chill in fridge. 
Can be stored upto 5 days in refrigeration.

Sprinkle gelatin over water and allow to soften for 3-4 minutes.
Take 1/4 cup cream on a double boiler and heat it.
Add gelatin and whisk. Add in the remaining cream.

Mix in the whipped cream well and transfer the pastry cream in a piping bag and store in fridge till  further use. 

Simple Syrup : 
Combine sugar and water in a pan and bring to a boil. 
Allow to cool.
Can be stored in fridge for upto 1 month.
Can be flavoured too. 

Fraisier Assembly : 
Cling wrap the entire inside of the 6" round pan with some extra hanging out. This will be useful to pull out the gateau from the tin. You may also use a springform pan to make it easier in which case you will only need to line the sides of the pan with cling wrap.
Fit bottom cake layer in the pan and moisten with sugar syrup. 

Slice strawberries in arrange around the sides of the pan.

Pipe cream in between the strawberries and a thin layer across the top of cake.

Chop the remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake.

Cover them with the pastry cream and smoothen top.

Place the second layer of cake on top and moisten with sugar syrup. 

Cover top with some remaining pastry cream or whipped cream.
Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Pull out the gateau carefully from the tin with the help of the overhanging cling wrap.
Place on a plate and decorate with strawberries and chocolate decorations.

Our anniversary celebration was made delicious with Vishal's Chicken biryani which followed by a visit to a newly opened cafe for some coffee and cupcakes. 

Happy Valentine's day



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