French Strawberry Cake


Strawberries, whipped cream, cake… what’s not to like.  Originally I was supposed to be in Southern California when baking this cake, but ended up back in Marin earlier than expected.  While in LA, though, I picked up some matcha, a fine green tea powder and decided I wanted to incorporate it into this week’s cake.

Matcha is a very delicate flavor and as such it may be overpowered by the strawberries.  It does however, lend a lovely green hue to the cake, which goes well against the red and white of the berries and cream, respectively.

I split the recipe across a few days.  On Saturday I baked the cake, and went out for Strawberries at the Farmers’ Market in Larkspur.  On Monday I cut and maserated the berries, leaving the final assembly for Tuesday.

I planned on a recipe-and-a-half, in order to make a 9″ round plus some leftover for a 4″ round mini cake.  Due to a misread of the recipe (I measured sugar for Ladyfinger Genoise), I ended up having the double the recipe since the sugar already had the matcha incorporated; I ended up going with 2 tsp. of matcha total.  I also warmed the eggs in their shells in some hot tap water prior to whipping.


Whole eggs, sugar, and green tea powder

Everything seemed to go well as a folder the dry ingredients.  Moments later as I was filling the pans, my heart sank when I noticed a significant amount of unincorporated flour in the nub of the bowl.  I experienced a little deja vu, having then remembered the sage observation from fellow baker Piebird, about problems her students had experienced folding flour in the KitchenAid work bowls.

Pressing on the cakes did eventual bake up, the 9″ in a standard oven, the 4″ in my countertop convection oven.  I think the convection oven wins, and I’ll probably try it for a full size cake the next time I do a genoise.

I split the cakes on Tuesday morning and this is when I experienced the fall of genoise.  I did manage to get three layers, though it’s almost like three different cakes.  The top layer is light and airy as a genoise is supposed to be.  The bottom is more like a pound cake, and the middle layer somewhere in between.  The difference in texture from top to bottom was foreshadowed by the relative ease with which the top layer sliced, while pull the knife through bottom of the cake was like slogging through mud.

Bottom and middle layers of the cake

The flavored cream whipped together nicely.  The sour cream is an interesting note.  I’m curious how it will compare with the all creme fraiche used in Chocolate Ruffle Cake (pp.)  I used a little more cream owing to a larger cake, though cut the sugar slightly since my berry mixture was pretty sweet, owing mostly to a talented farmer and some delicious berries.

My one cheat was to do the rosettes with some canned whipped cream, as I have not yet settled on decorating tips.  I made sure to get all-dairy, rather than some full or partially imitation crap like Cool Whip (or as my brothers and I refer to it… “Whipped Oil”)


The whole cake

A slice showing the green tinted cake layers

I definitely will try this cake again, though I’ll skip the Matcha as it’s rather expensive, and I’d like to reserve my small tin for other uses and new experiments.

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Aside | This entry was posted in BakingWithJulia, TuesdaysWithDorie. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to French Strawberry Cake

  1. judy says:

    That is a very elegant looking cake. I skipped the piping altogether so my cake is more rustic looking. I loved the frosting, but my genoise came rather dry.

    • Paul says:

      I’m pretty sure genoise are often dry. Rather than necessarily being a weakness, it allows you to add another flavor to the cake via a flavored syrup. So I wouldn’t give up on genoise, though you might find substituting a different cake type in combination with the berries and cream.

  2. Chris says:

    That looks great — the colors are amazing.

  3. Loved your variation of the cake.

  4. Cathleen says:

    Interesting variation. Nice work on the decorating.

  5. Melissa says:

    I’m a little biased, but California strawberries are hard to beat. Your cake looks great!

    • Paul says:

      Thanks! Your bias is not undue. I just started reading “How To Pick a Peach” by Russ Parsons, who covers Food and Wine for the LA Times. Something like 90% of the US grown strawberries are grown in California. But the key is eating them in California, and farmers’ markets can offer varieties that won’t ship well.

  6. Red and green and white… the perfect color for a Xmas cake…if we had the strawberries!!
    Your cake looks so great!

  7. Piebird says:

    I like your matcha tea variation and I think you got the right depth of green from your pictures. could you taste it in the cake? what a perfect description of three layers seeming like three different cakes. mine too, this was a tricky recipe!

  8. Paul says:

    Thanks, I learned quite a bit from your cake post, and in particular like your photo of the whirring mixer. I was shooting for that effect, but needed more light and a tripod.

    I wasn’t able to taste the cake plain. Assembled with naturally sweet strawberries, the flavor of the green tea is pretty much lost. If I were to try green tea again, I would skip the strawberries and go with only whipped cream frosting, perhaps even cutting the vanilla back to further deemphasize any flavor other than the matcha.

  9. Cher says:

    I like your experiment with the matcha. I would not have thought the strawberries would overpower it so much, but I will keep that in mind in the future.
    Great looking cake.

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