This month, the Tuesdays with Dorie gang is celebrating the arrival of strawberry season by baking the French Strawberry Cake – a pretty triple-layered cake filled with macerated strawberries and frosted with whipped cream.
I had my doubts about this one. To start, I’m not really a layered frosted cake kinda gal. I’m all about keeping the ratio of time-spent-baking-and-decorating-cake to time-spent-snarfing-down-cake as low as possible, so I just can’t be fussed with all that slicing and piping and filling and whatnot… give me a simple loaf or bundt cake any day of the week.
And also, genoise scares the pants off me. Seriously. I get heart palpitations just thinking about it – sifting and re-sifting the flour, getting the eggs to just the right stage of frothiness, folding in the flour without deflating the mixture entirely. Finicky technique just ain’t my strong suit.
That’s the beauty of TWD, though. It’s all about trying new things that I might have otherwise skipped because they’re too complicated or fussy or time-consuming.
I did end up making one compromise with this recipe – with The Boy away this week, a full 8-inch cake was a bit more than I wanted to eat on my own, so I cut out a small 2″ round from the finished genoise to make a little mini-cake for one. (The rest of the genoise is in the freezer, waiting to be turned into petit fours at a later date.)
Other than the panic-inducing genoise, the rest of the cake is mercifully simple. The berries are macerated with sugar and then mashed, creating a sweet fruity pulp that soaks into the firm genoise, while the cream is quickly whipped with a little sour cream, which gives it a thick icing-like consistency and a subtly tangy flavour.
As you can see, I didn’t do the best job of frosting my little cake, since I was rushing to catch the last of the light on an oppressively cloudy day. Thankfully, it tastes much better than it looks – despite the relative heaviness of the genoise, the finished cake still feels quite light and summery, with lots of fresh strawberry flavour. It’s basically like a fancier take on strawberry shortcake, which just happens to be one of my favouritest desserts ever.
That said, I’m not sure I’m interested in fussing with genoise the next time I’m craving a strawberry shortcake when biscuits are so much less stressful, but it’s still nice to know I’m actually capable of making a proper frosted cake when I put my mind to it. :)
In keeping with the TWD ground rules, I am not posting the recipe for this beautiful cake. However, you can find it on pages 273-274 of Baking with Julia (seriously, you need to buy a copy of this book!), or by visiting one of the hosts’ blogs: Sophia of Sophia’s Sweets and Allison Sleep Love Think Dine.