Saturday, August 15, 2009
At least this time, it's not a raspberry post, but I won't be far from all things berry at least until summer ends :D.
Ever since I started going to farmers' market two years ago, after I moved back to California, it was an instant love. I don't know how many times I've been saying this, but I'll say it again, once you buy fruits from farmers' market, you won't go back to grocery store. Especially in summer, where we're blessed with abundant ripe and sweet berries, fragrant stone fruits, deep-purple cherry, and so many other things. I used to think that berries are all tart and they're just pretty, not good to be eaten just like that, but obviously I was wrong!! I tasted my first SWEET raspberries and strawberries at farmers' market and I was really surprised that I can munch on them just like that without adding any sugar. Since then, I have been a firm believer that you shouldn't buy your berries or fruits in season at grocery store. Plus, you can find fresh produce, great food, and much more depending on how big the farmers' market is. When berries is this sweet, you gotta make a cake with it!
Anyways, onto the cake now. It was one of my dearest friend's birthday a month ago (yes I know, I need to update sooner :D), and he requested a birthday cake for his birthday about a week in advance so that I could have enough time to prepare everything. He understands me well enough to know that I need plenty of time or notice way in advance to make a cake. So, he gave me what he thought was enough time so that I won't have one of those "oh no, I don't have time to make it" kinda excuse, smart guy :P. And without a doubt, I used this opportunity to try out some things new and I decided on this fraisier.
Fraisier is not new to me actually as I made it a few times before. It's like a French style of American strawberry shortcake. Traditional fraisier has two layers of genoise, soaked with Kirsch syrup, filled with creme mousseline (a combination of pastry cream and buttercream), and finally topped off with green/pink marzipan. The version of the fraisier I made before did not have this exact components though. I used Cointreau or Grand Marnier instead of Kirsch (not a big fan of it), and I used vanilla bean creme diplomat (combination of pastry cream and whipped cream) as I like everything light texturewise, and I skipped the marzipan too. There is another version of modern fraisier, which I saw in Pierre Herme's book and some French websites., which uses pistachio-flavored creme mousseline as the filling. Pistachio and strawberry is one of those pair that you cant go wrong with, they go really well with each other. Some version also uses blow-torched italian meringue to decorate the top instead of marzipan.
I've never made creme mousseline before and so I didn't exactly know what is the ratio between the pastry cream and the butter. I read some books and website but they're all suggesting completely different proportion. So, there I was creating my own ratio, which suits my taste. I started with my usual vanilla bean pastry cream, added pistachio paste and weighed it as I kept on tasting it until it tasted strong enough (it is easily overpowered by other flavor, so need to make sure that the flavor is pronounced enough). Same thing with the butter, I kept adding it a little at a time and weighed it until I got the right consistency and taste. I also made italian meringue that I burned with blow torch to create the burnt effect for the top part, while the pattern was created using a metal spatula. I got a little bored with glaze and wanted to do something different :D.
The final result was a success, although I think it's a little bit on the sweet side for me. I guess it's predictable from the syrup (I made it sweeter than usual unpurposedly), the mousseline was also a tad too sweet (an experiment, remember?), but it adds up to the sweetness too, and lastly the italian meringue. Italian meringue has always been too sweet for me and that's why I don't use it that often. I reduced the amount of the sugar in this from my previously reduced-sugar recipe, but it still contribute to the sweetness level. Sadly, I forgot to write down the recipe while it was fresh in my memory :(, and now I have to do it all over again to get the right proportions. Oh well, I guess it's another reason to bake another cake!