Friday, March 09, 2007

St. Strawberry

I love strawberries! I've stressed that much in my previous entry. They have a sweet smell, a very subtle acidic note, and the brightest red hue! For strawberry cakes, I like them mixed directly into the cream, as opposed to having them simply placed in the filling or the topping. There should be large chunks visible, not merely small slivers of them; this nuance makes all the difference if you want to achieve having the real essence of the strawberry in the cream. I'm not one to appreciate strawberry wannabes that achieve the color through srawberry jams and coloring. They're fine-tasting, easy to produce (essential quality for commercial establishments), but with it comes the lack of authenticity real strawberries bring to a cake.The inspiration for this cake comes from a bombe mixture; take note that the cream used should have a high fat content, and whipped only 'til soft peaks. The acidity of the strawberries will thicken your cream almost instantantly. Stiffly whipped cream will settle unevenly with grits of cream curd--not very sightly. Cake of choice is chiffon, of course, simple vanilla-flavored chiffon.

Fluffy Vanilla Chiffon

1 C cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 egg yolks
6T castor sugar
1/4c corn oil
6 T water
1T vanilla extract

4 egg whites
1/4c sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Have ready 2 clean, dry 8" round pans.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients of A, mixing well with balloon-type wire whisk. Set aside.
3. In a clean mixing bowl with whisk attachment, whip egg whites with tartar. Gradually add sugar until stiff peaks form (whisk slowly raised should form stiff, straight peaks).
4. Fold 1/2 of the whites into A, fold gently using wire whisk, taking care not to deflate the air beaten into the egg whites. Add the remaining beaten egg whites, fold in the same manner. Lastly, fold with a large rubber spatula to make sure no traces of egg whites are left unmixed.
5. Pour evenly onto pans, bake immediately for 25-30 minutes. Top will be slightly brown; do not overcook or it will be difficult to unmold and you will end up with a dry crumb.
6. Let cool upside down on wire rack before unmolding.

This recipe is freeze-stable, use within a week.

Strawberry Cream and Filling*

1 C sweet strawberries, leaves and stem removed.
1 1/2C heavy whipping cream (such as Elle and Vire)

1. Clean strawberries well, mash 1/4 into juicy pulp. Chop the remaining into uneven chunks.
2. Whip cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold prepared strawberries into cream, do not overmix. Let chill until slightly set. Use immediately.

*this version is simpler to make, but just as good!
I find that this cake is best consumed within 5 days. Anyway, with a cake this good, that shouldn't be a problem!

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