Mini Fraisier

Strawberry cake for Christmas is such a Japanese custom (and not at all Finnish, we eat our strawberry cakes in summer). But once one starts thinking about it, strawberries are red - like Christmas, and they look like Santa's Hats :) Everyone is probably fed up with Christmas by now, but I still want to post the recipe now and not wait for next Christmas (the photos are not that good that I could wait almost a year as I know that I'll start to hate them even more as time passes).

When I saw a photo of these on Pinterest, I immediately wanted to make them. I don't know how the originals managed to look that perfect as my strawberries didn't stick properly to the film, so I couldn't fill them properly in fear of losing the pretty strawberries under the filling (So they are not very pretty, especially as the glaze ran down the edges (I'm not going to post the recipe for the glaze this time, as I'm looking for a better one). I used round molds I made from plastic film. (Next time I'll make them square, so the berries will stick properly to the mold). 

But, despite all the hardship I discovered the perfect base for pastries: génoise! It's soft but rather dense and durable and tastes awesome (because of butter I'd imagine). So, though the Fraisiers didn't look as pretty as I would have wanted, I want to write the recipe down here (and post the ugly photos). As far as I'm concerned, I never feel up taking photos of food that I couldn't make as perfectly as I would have wanted. But, this is good practice for letting go of my annoying habit of trying to be perfect in every possible way :D

Mini Fraisier

adapted from Joe Pastry

(makes 10 x 25 cm sheet, the original is made with 6 eggs, which gives enough for 46 x 33 cm sheet or 22 cm cake) I baked mine in a loaf pan, which happened to be quite 1/6 from the original. I could cut 4 round pieces from it (even more if I had done rectangular ones).

Clarified butter is optional but recommended but you could use regular melted butter too (it's especially difficult making a very small quantity as in this case, so if you have other uses for clarified butter, make a bigger batch (at least of 50 g butter, depending on the size of your butter melting pot). It can be kept in fridge for 3-6 months).

21 g cake flour
10 g clarified (or regular melted) butter
a pinch of salt (1/12 tsp if you can measure...)
1 egg
33 g sugar
1/6 tsp vanilla extract

For brushing:
50 ml water
50 ml caster sugar
2 tsp cognac (or according to taste)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whisk the egg and sugar in hot water bath until it reaches about 50 C. Take away from the heat and beat until it’s light and foamy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat a few more seconds.
Pour a bit of the egg foam into the cooled melted butter and stir it until incorporated, then gently pour the foam-butter mixture into the rest of the egg foam. Sieve the flour mixture into the egg foam and carefully fold until the flour and the egg-butter mixture are completely incorporated. Gently pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake until the cake is pale golden and springs back lightly when touched.

For brushing: make simple syrup: bring caster sugar and water to boil and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Once it's cooled, add the cognac. Arrange the cake pieces inside your mold and brush it with the syrup. Don't overdo it, you'll want just a little moisture (and a nice cognac taste). Cut strawberries in half and arrange them around the edges. If you have extra cake I suggest you cut a similar shaped piece (only smaller) as the bottom piece and put it in the middle, so that it will keep the strawberries stuck to the edges.

If making a proper fraisier, the filling should be crème mousseline, but I didn't want it this time as it seems too heavy, especially during Christmas, when there's so much food around anyway. Instead, I made my favorite cake filling (the same that's used on Princess Cake): crème pâtissière with some whipped cream. I put an extra gelatine leaf (in fear of losing the pretty strawberries under the filling), which I usually detest doing as it makes the filling rubbery.

Crème pâtissière
75 ml + 100 ml heavy cream
75 ml milk
1/2 vanilla pod
1 egg yolk
10 g sugar
1 tsp potato starch
1-2 gelatine leafs
 heavy cream, whipped

Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds. Put the seeds and the pod to pot with milk and 75 ml heavy cream. Bring to boil and take away from heat. Let seep for 10-15 min. Sieve it to remove the pod (and its bits). Put the gelatine leaf(s) to soak in cold water.

Beat egg yolk, sugar and potato starch together. Bring the milk-cream mixture to boil again and pour on egg mixture while whisking. Pour back to the pot and warm it up on medium low heat while stirring constantly until it thickens (don't let it boil). Take away from heat. Squeeze the gelatine leaf(s) to get rid of excess water and dissolve with the custard. Let cool down in cold water bath. Transfer to refrigerator for a moment (mine was there maybe 5-10 minutes) so that it thickens just a bit but doesn't set. Meanwhile, whip the rest of the cream and fold into slightly thickened custard. Pour onto your molds. Let set in fridge for 4 hours or overnight.
Pipe some whipped cream on top and press a strawberry on it. Finish it by piping a small amount of cream on top of the strawberry too.

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