Today, somehow, tentimestea turns seven!? Is it time for me and my blog’s seven year itch? (I’m not feeling it yet – but…)
Over these seven years, definitely a number of things of have changed (like the fonts – what a reversal from serif to sans) – and a few other things have stayed the same. For instance, I’ve had the same rather prescient blog tagline since I started my blog: tentimestea is indeed primarily about food, my cautious instinct was correct that there really ended up being no books, and the pretentious writing is right on point. Likewise, I’ve kept the same totally irrelevant about page mostly intact.
In this manner my blog has come to be a mish-mash of nostalgia and sentimentality folded in with the newer fonts and occasionally properly exposed photographs – SEO and proper blog form be darned! Because after working on something for seven years, I suppose you do start to get attached to all the idiosyncrasies and random html widgets that were added into the sidebar which now, years later, I don’t have the heart to delete. It’s legacy! For posterity! or so I tell myself.
And so? One more year? Shall we?
I’ve been thinking about making a fraisier for a while (i.e. about three years). I’m so glad I finally did – it’s not nearly as scary as I thought it would be! Perhaps my biggest fear was the ring of strawberries along the edge not staying in place, or even worse, not being able to pull off the cake ring at the very end. Neither of those events came to pass as you can see (and on the ring removal side, it just takes a bit of warming up via blow dryer.)
Fraisier is a cake named for it’s fruit (la fraise) usually made of two layers of sponge enclosing cream and strawberries, and then topped with a layer of marzipan. It’s most recognizable for the ring of exposed strawberry halves.
This fraisier is a bit of a riff off of the original. Starting with the cake, I went with joconde, an almond sponge, instead of genoise. It’s one of my favourite base cakes – it’s stronger, moister and has a wonderfully rich taste, and in lieu of the marzipan, it provides a gentle almond flavour. For the filling, I infused the creme diplomat with lemon verbena and thyme for a fresh herbal taste, and packed the centre with tart roasted rhubarb. And as hinted, I skipped the marzipan – I love marzipan, but I do think the more-cream-on-top approach, one which I’ve seen a number of times (like here!) is a lovely balance of flavours.
For the ambitious, Tamal Ray recently shared a frasier recipe in the Guardian with a double strawberry ring, while the blog Freddy’s Harajuku has a full on double-decker frasier.
As for me, I can’t wait to try this again in different flavour variations!
past tentimestea birthday rhubarb cakes:
- 1st year – roasted rhubarb layer cake linked to for legacy purposes only; I remade it much improved in my 5th year
- 2nd year – rhubarb victoria sponge
- 4th year – croquembouche with cardamom cream and rhubarb curd (though I would recommend these for a rhubarb cream puff)
- 5th year – revisited roasted rhubarb layer cake
- 6th year – rhubarb, coconut and rooibos mousse cakes
lemon verbena, thyme & rhubarb fraisier
special equipment: cake ring 6″ in diametre and 3″ tall
- 3 egg whites
- pinch cream of tartar
- 15g sugar
- 100g ground almond
- 100g icing sugar
- 3 eggs
- 30g flour
- 30g butter, melted and cooled
- 120g chopped rhubarb (chop into about 1.5cm dice)
- 80g chopped strawberries (chop into about 1.5cm dice)
- about 2 tsp sugar (or more to taste)
- 320g whole milk
- 3 large sprigs lemon verbena
- 3 large sprigs thyme
- 3 egg yolks
- 20g granulated sugar
- 20g cornstarch
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp gelatin, bloomed in 1 tbsp water
- 180g heavy cream, whipped
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp grand marnier (or kirsch)
- whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 425F. Butter two 9-inch cake tins and line the bottom of two 9-inch cake tins with parchment paper. Flour the sides.
Place the 3 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and sugar and beat until firm peaks are formed. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.
Place the almond, icing sugar and 3 whole eggs in the stand mixer and beat with the whisk on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Sift the flour overtop and fold in. Fold in the melted butter. Dollop a large scoop of egg whites over top and fold in to lighten. Then add the remaining egg whites and fold until incorporated.
Evenly distribute the batter between the two tins and spread into an even layer.
Bake for around 5-10 minutes or until golden and springy. Let cool, then store, covered, until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Toss the strawberries, rhubarb and sugar together on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once at the 10 minute mark, or until the fruit is tender and has released juices. Let cool and chill completely.
Heat the milk until steaming. Coarsely chop the lemon verbena and thyme, and add to the milk. Cover and let cool, then transfer the milk to the fridge to continue infusing overnight. The next day strain the milk, pressing to extract the milk from the herbs. Weigh the strained milk and top up to reach 320g.
Transfer the milk to a medium-small saucepan. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Heat the milk until steaming, then slowly pour into the egg yolks while whisking constantly to temper them. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Cook for at least 1 minute (whisking vigorously) then immediately remove from the heat. Pass through a sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps and whisk in the butter and bloomed gelatin until both are melted. Cover and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, whisk the pastry cream until smooth. Whisk in a dollop of the whipped cream to lighten, then fold in the remainder. Use soon.
Mix together the milk and grand marnier.
Use the 6″ cake ring to cut a 6″ round from each joconde. Place the cake ring onto a plate (it is convenient to place it on your intended serving plate). Put one circle of joconde down and brush with the milk/grand marnier mixture. Line the ring with halved strawberries, cut side against the ring. I needed about 13 strawberry halves, but it will depend on the size of your strawberries (mine varied from 4-6cm tall; try not to exceed 6 or so cm to ensure that the cake doesn’t get too tall!).
Transfer the creme diplomat to a piping bag fitted with a round tip (I used Wilton 2A, about 1cm in diameter). Pipe the creme between each strawberry and then pipe in a spiral to cover the bottom of the cake. Spoon the roasted fruit into the cavity created by the cream and strawberries, and then pipe more cream overtop to cover it. Spread flat and top with the second circle of joconde. Brush with the grand marnier/milk mixture. Finally, spread a final layer of creme diplomat over top and smooth out with an offset spatula.
Cover with plastic and chill overnight to allow the cream to set. The next day, if the cake is not already on your designed serving platter, move it – you can likely lift it up via the ring, but use a wide flat spatula on the bottom for additional support.. Then run a blowdryer (or even a blowtorch, if you have access to one!) along the outside of the ring for several seconds to slightly melt the cream and loosen the ring. Lift up the ring. I garnished with some piped whipped cream, strawberries, lemon verbena and thyme (as well as a single white begonia – they are edible! – the sole output from our struggling balcony plants).