The cake, and hunt for the elusive strawberries

15 years and counting.. that is how long we’ve been the best of friends. When she turns 25, and considering I am a fair enough baker now, it is only fair that I bake her a cake she likes. And she is one of those persons who is sadly, not a connoisseur of chocolate. So I had to go by a fruit flavoured cake. When I was searching for the best strawberry flavoured cake, I remembered the one I had baked some time back for my brother’s birthday. A strawberry charlotte (courtesy- the Joy of Baking website). But then, it is the mid of July, and strawberries are not easily available in Chennai. In fact, even the many grocery delivery apps seemed to have run out of the berries. So I was faced with tough task of choosing between a different fruit flavoured cake or to make use of the many ready-to-use strawberry sauces and crushes. My other alternative was the pineapple upside-down cake. But I decided to go with the strawberry charlotte, substituting homemade strawberry sauce with a store-bought one.

I did make one huge change to the charlotte recipe. Instead of using heavy whipping cream, I used a combination of milk, and gelatin for my strawberry cream. And the end result was amazingly light and delicious.

Here is the recipe I followed:

Strawberry Charlotte

Vanilla Genoise:

A genoise is also known as a sponge cake, albeit a lighter version. Chocolate genoises are more popular than the vanilla ones and are used exclusively in Black Forest Cakes.

  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup cake flour
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm

Method:

  • Preheat your oven to 180˚C.
  • Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan, and also line the bottom with a parchment paper.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  • Using your electric mixer, beat the eggs and  sugar for about 10-12 minutes, till they turn thick, fluffy and pale yellow in colour.
  • Add the vanilla extract and beat till incorporated.
  • Now to the above egg mixture, sift in the flour mixture in 2-3 additions and mix using a spatula. Fold in the flour. Do not over mix as you will deflate the batter. Though you can use a whisk for this, I personally prefer a spatula as I believe it doesn’t deflatten the batter much.
  • Now take a small quantity of the above batter and mix it with the melted butter. This is to lighten the butter.
  • Add the above butter and batter mix to the remainder of the batter and mix them till combined.
  • Pour the batter immediately into the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, till a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean and it is springy to the touch.
  • Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife along the edges and then remove it from the pan.
  • Let the cake cool on a wire rack.

Strawberry Cream:

  • ¾ cup strawberry sauce/crush
  • 1 tbsp gelatin
  • 1 cup milk, with 4 tbsp melted butter (chilled)
  • 1 – 2 tbsp granulated white sugar

Method:

  • Heat the butter and the milk until the butter has melted and then chill it.
  • Add the gelatin to ¼ cup of the strawberry crush and let it sit for 5-10 minutes till it turns spongy.
  • Microwave for a few seconds or heat over a water bath, the above gelatin mixture till the gelatin dissolves.
  • Add this gelatin mixture to the remainder ½ cup of the strawberry crush.
  • In a chilled bowl, beat the chilled milk, sugar, the strawberry-gelatin mixture till well combined. Adjust the sugar levels to suit your taste buds.
  • Set the cream aside till you assemble the cake.

Your strawberry cream will be runny because you used milk, but do not worry. Once it sets, the gelatin will do it’s trick and you will have a light strawberry cream on top your cake. 🙂

Assembling the cake:

  • Line a 9-inch springform with a parchment paper.
  • Place the cooled vanilla genoise in the pan.
  • Spread ¼ cup of the strawberry crush over the top of the genoise using a pastry brush.
  • Now pour the prepared strawberry cream mizture over the cake.
  • Cover the pan with a plastic cling film and refrigerate for a few hours (3-4) or preferbly overnight. This gives time for the flavours to combine.
  • Once set, run a knife around the edges of the pan and remove the cake from the pan.

The strawberry charlotte is now ready! 🙂

The soft vanilla sponge along with the light gelatin based strawberry cream makes for a really wonderful celebration cake. And the combination of the vanilla and the strawberry- yummm!! 🙂 🙂

 

IMG-20160714-WA0011
Here you go!!

 

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