21 February 2008


Ray Ventura
Fraisier (with title)
Would you believe I made a whole cake just to get rid of leftovers? I had some pastry cream from before and someone gave us a box of Driscoll's strawberries, so rather than let the pastry cream spoil, I decided to make this cake I've been lusting after for a long time. The thing is, it only takes 10 minutes to put a génoise together. It was Valentine's day too, so I thought it would be the perfect end to a dinner of Sole Meuniére and pizza (don't ask me how an Italian got in there). The name "Ray Ventura" is also given to this cake, after a bandleader popular in France after World War II.

I think I've spoiled my family for exquisite cakes. They don't seem to realize that you can't get a cake like this for cheap anywhere (as there are a few options around-- hotels, Bizu, some "commercial" home bakers-- and you will have to pay more than a thousand pesos for one). Since the strawberries were free and flour and sugar are just lying around here, I only had to pay for good dairy and eggs. My whole family loved it, even my dad who's not fond of dessert. I'm firmly sticking to my resolution not to eat cakes made elsewhere, unless it's innovative and I've never tasted it before. I still do love me some cheap cake, but it's really not any good for me health-wise. If you're going to be eating a ton of sugar, make sure you at least learn something from the experience.

You'll notice that the cake is taller on one side. My oven heats unevenly and I totally forgot to turn the pan in the middle of baking. Oh well, it still tasted great.

Classic Génoise

  • 100g (3/4 cup) cake flour, or 78g (9 tablespoons) all-purpose flour plus 22g (2 tablespoons) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Place a rack on the lower third of the oven and preheat to 177°C (350°F). Grease, line the bottom with parchment, and grease again an 8" springform pan, 8" cake pan, or 8" cake ring over a heavy baking sheet lined with parchment. Sift together the flour (or flour+cornstarch as the case may be), 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper and set aside. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl set over hot tap water. Add the 100g sugar and whisk for a few minutes, or until the eggs reach body temperature and no longer feel grainy when rubbed between the fingers. Transfer the bowl to a mixer and beat at high speed for about 5 minutes, when the eggs have tripled in volume and falls in ribbons from the beater that take a few seconds to sink into the surface. Since I have a handheld mixer, I just beat the eggs over the hot water bath for 7 minutes. Sprinkle a third of the flour mixture over the eggs and fold gently. Repeat twice more with the remaining flour mixture. Take a cup of the batter and fold it into the butter. Return the batter-butter mixture and vanilla to the rest of the batter and fold until just combined. Pour into the pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until the top feels spongy. Let it cool to room temperature.

Follow the recipe given here. Tint it with one drop of green food coloring and thin it with enough stock syrup to get the consistency of heavy cream.

Kirsch Brushing Syrup
  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 60g (1/4 cup) water
  • 2 tablespoons Kirsch

Combine the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over high heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature then stir in the Kirsch.

Crème Mousseline
  • 240g (1 cup) whole milk
  • 14g (1-1/2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
  • 14g (1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) cornstarch
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 133g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
  • 200g (14-1/2 tablespoons, or 2 sticks minus 1-1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

Bring the milk to a simmer in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until smooth and pale. Sift together the flour and cornstarch over the eggs and whisk in. Pour in about half of the hot milk, whisking constantly, then pour everything back into the saucepan with the milk and whisk thoroughly until blended and smooth. Turn on the heat to medium and bring the custard toa boil, whisking constantly all the while. Continue boiling for 1 more minute. Strain using a fine sieve into a stainless stell bowl and whisk in 40g (3 tablespoons) of the butter. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally.
Cream the remaining butter (using a flat beater if you have one) and gradually beat in the cooled custard. Continue beating for a minute more to lighten the crème mousseline. It can be used right away, refrigerated with cling film flush to the surface for a week, or frozen up to 3 months. If frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and beat with a flat beater or spatula until smooth.

  • 600g (17oz) small to medium strawberries, hulled (I only had large ones so I sliced them all in half)

Cut a piece of matt board into an 8" circle. Place this at the bottom of the springform or cake ring if you used one, or directly on the serving platter if not.

Cut the cooled génoise horizontally into two layers and replace the bottom layer on top of the matt board. Brush with half the kirsch brushing syrup. Spread a thin layer of crème mousseline using an offset spatula.

If you used a springform or cake ring, cut a few strawberries crosswise and use them to line the circumference of the cake. If not, just decorate the border with strawberries. Fill the rest of the interior of the cake with more strawberries, making sure it is more or less even throughout. Spread crème mousseline over the berries, filling the gaps and covering them to make a layer of uniform thickness. Brush the cut surface of the top layer of génoise with kirsch brushing syrup and replace this cut side-down on the strawberries. Spread the top with a thin layer of crème mousseline and smooth the top with an icing spatula or straight edge to make a flat surface (I forgot this step, obviously). Refrigerate for at least an hour to firm the filling.

Stir the fondant over a hot-water bath to raise the temperature to between 38-40°C (100-105°F). Pour about 2/3 cup over the top of the cake and smooth with an icing spatula or straight edge. Let the fondant set. Refrigerate the cake until about 30 minutes before serving. Release the springform or slip the cake out of the ring if you used one.

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