A Fraisier is the perfect combination of some of moist cake and mousseline, a superbly buttery pastry cream, and of course, strawberries. My take on this classic tops the Fraisier with a fresh made layer of strawberry gelatin. The combination is divine.
Let me tell you straight out: If you do not have four hours of your life to spare, do not make this dessert. It is time intensive….AND WORTH IT! I came home from ballet class on Wednesday and rather frantically attempted to make my way through this dessert. Word of advice, spandex and sugar don’t mix.
I highly recommend having a very patient, kind, and wonderful (tall and attractive) helper for this recipe. I had Stephen (perfect fit!), and though he might have joked that I “definitely need a kitchen all to myself. In fact, [I] might need three” he was a wonderful helper, and much more patient with my panic attacks about time than I would have imagined anyone could be. He’s also very smart. I do need three kitchens all to myself. He's even so sweet, he bought me flowers during his second emergency trip to the grocery store that night.
Because we were getting started an hour later than I’d planned, and I knew this cake was going to, once again, take much more time than I had, even with Stephen helping, we cut a few corners and enhanced a lemon cake mix into a beautifully moist pound cake. Even with cutting out the time to make a Genoise, Stephen (and my roommate Charlotte pitching in around midnight), the Fraisier still took nearly 4 hours to complete….and then it had to refrigerate for 4 hours….but again: WORTH IT!
Lemon pound cake
Lemon Simple Syrup
2 lbs. strawberries
Cake Mix Lemon Pound Cake
1 lemon cake mix
2 small packages lemon pudding mix
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a stand mixer, mix together the cake and pudding mixes. Add in the other ingredients separately and in order. Mix eggs in one at a time.
For the Frasier you’re going to only use part of this cake mix. Take a round 9 inch spring form pan and line with parchment paper. Pour roughly a half an inch of cake batter in the bottom of the pan. Use the remaining batter for other cakes, cupcakes, or cake balls. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Bake cake for at least 20 minutes. Test with a toothpick and continue baking until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup first, then the mousseline.
Lemon Simple Syrup
1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of water
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Once cooled, add the lemon juice and refrigerate.
2 1/4 cups whole milk (I’ve made this with skim and it’s okay too)
6 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar, divided in half
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided in half
Scald the milk and half the sugar in a heavy bottom saucepan over medium high heat.
While the milk and sugar are heating, in a stand mixer beat together the egg yolks, the remaining sugar and cornstarch until the mixture becomes pale in color.
Once the milk is scalded, bubbling at the edges, slowly pour the mixture down the sides of the bowl while beat until combined. If there isn’t any scorched milk or film on your original sauce pan, you can continue to use it; otherwise, pour the mixture back into a different pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring vigorously and constantly.
While stirring, allow to boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat continuing to stir until the steam dissipates (not entirely or else the custard will be too cold for the following steps). Press through a sieve to ensure a smooth cream. Dot the cream with half of the butter in tablespoon-sized chunks. Let the butter melt, and then stir in. Cool over an ice bath for 10 minutes. Press a layer of plastic wrap onto the surface of the mousseline to keep a crust from forming. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
Keep the remaining butter sitting at room temperature. You’ll return to finish the mousseline after you assemble the Fraisier.
By now your cake should be cooled. Level the 9 inch cake to your desired height preference. I recommend about one inch. Place the cake layer back into a washed and dried 9 inch spring form pan.
Using a pastry brush, generously brush the simple syrup onto the top of the cake. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough. (Personally I go a little light on the syrup compared to a puritan).
Hull and slice enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Try to keep a uniform height, or for added drama, use two heights, and alternate. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, until filled.
By now your mousseline should be ready to finish.
To finish the mousseline
With a spoon, mix the remaining butter until it’s a soft consistency. Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator. In a stand mixer, stir until it’s soft. Add 1/4 of the softened butter at a time and combine before adding the next 1/4 of the butter. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip that is 1/2-inch in diameter.
Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the remainder of the mousseline. If you have extra time (lucky you) refrigerate the cake for half an hour, gently run a knife around the sides of the pan, and use a lever to ensure a perfectly level cake. If you don’t have time (like me) eyeball it and try to flatten as best you can.
Place the cake in the refrigerator while you make the gelatin.
If you want to do a more traditional Frasier, at this point you would put another syrup soaked layer of cake atop the mousseline and then cover the top with a layer of almond paste. I however prefer the colorful accent of this simple home made gelatin.
1/4 pounds strawberries
1.5 ounces sugar
1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 package (1/8 ounce) unflavored gelatin
Hull and quarter the strawberries; combine in a medium bowl with sugar and lemon juice. Set aside, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Place 1 cup cold water in a small saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand at least 5 minutes to soften.
Working in batches, purée strawberry mixture in a blender. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve (no seeds!) into a large measuring cup after each batch (discard solids). Add enough water to strained juice to measure a total of 3 cups liquid. Set aside.
Heat softened gelatin over medium-high, just until it begins to bubble around the edges and gelatin has dissolved (do not boil), 2 to 3 minutes; stir into strawberry juice.
Pour over top of the fraisier and chill for four hours.