Fraisier cake

This is a French classic. When strawberries are in season, fraisiers start to pop up in every pastry shop. They're really not that difficult to make though, so why not try your hands at it? Here's the recipe I used.

 4 large eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cornflour
1 stick + 1 tablespoon butter (125 grams), softened
1 vanilla pod

1 pound fresh strawberries

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.  
Start with the cake. Place sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl. 
Using electric beaters, whisk until sugar has dissolved and mixture is pale in colour. Add in almond extract and set aside.
In another bowl, whisk egg whites with electric beaters on high speed until firm peaks form. Fold egg whites into the egg-sugar mixture in 3 times, just enough to keep batter light and airy. 
Divide batter in halves and spread each half onto a prepared baking sheet on a tray. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cake turns a pale golden-brown. 
When cooked, allow the sponge to cool a little bit on the baking sheet, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Place the cake ring you will use to assemble the cake together on top of each half and cut the excess sponge. You now have two sponge cake layers of identical size.
To make the crème mousseline, pour the milk into a wide based pan, split the vanilla pod along its length using a sharp knife, and add it to the milk along with the vanilla seeds. Bring the milk up to the boil, then take it off the heat. 
Whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornflour in a medium sized bowl until blended. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk and pour the hot milk through a sieve into the egg mixture. Whisk to combine. 
Pour the custard back into the saucepan and set over a medium heat. 
Stir the custard constantly until the mixture thickens. The mixture will take about four minutes to thicken, but when it does it happens very quickly, so you need to really keep stirring to prevent lumps. Whisk until smooth. 
Cook the mixture until the crème is very thick. Then pour it in a bowl, and allow to cool slightly, placing a piece of cling film on top of mixture to prevent the formation of a thick skin. When mixture is just lukewarm, stir in the butter until thoroughly melted and combined. Let it cool for 30 minutes in the fridge.
 To assemble the cake, place one layer of sponge cake in the bottom of the cake ring. (At this stage, feel free to soak the sponge with a syrup of your choice. I just brushed a coulis made with strawberry jelly).  
Rinse, hull and halve about 15 strawberries, try and make sure they are all the same height. 
Place the cut sides of the strawberries against the edge of the cake ring. The strawberry halves should be sitting snugly beside each other, so it looks like a little crown inside the ring. Cut a dozen more strawberries in quarters and scatter over the sponge. 
Take the chilled crème mousseline out of the fridge and spread carefully over the strawberries and the sponge. Then smooth with a palette knife.
Place the other disc of sponge on top of the crème. 
Gently press the top down quite firmly, so that the cake and filling push against the side of the cake ring to create the distinctive smooth and defined sides of the Fraisier cake.
Sprinkle confectioners sugar on top layer and decorate with more fresh strawberries.



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