fresh fraisiers with gooseberries

As last month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a) awesome and b) fun to make, I was a bit worried that this month’s might not measure up in terms of tastynessnessness. When I finally read what the challenge was, I could recognise the thing in the pictures, but if I’m honest I had never heard it called that.

Not that it was anything rude.

I just had never heard its name. But really, how often do you need to call desserts? And if you do, do they reply? It’s almost midnight, so bear with me.

fresh fraisiers

fresh fraisiers

Anyway, the recipe was for fresh fraisiers. Yeah, I wouldn’t know what they were either, without a picture. Actually, I just Google Images’d it and what came up was the Daring Bakers challenges now unveiled. So I’m going to take a wild guess and say that in the world of desserts, as far as popularity is concerned, baklava is the Madonna to fraisiers’, well, whomever was second place in last year’s X Factor.

Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

So, the above is the challenge. And the pictures were ridiculously seductive. So even though it’s not at the top of the dessert charts, it was worth a try.

I didn’t want to use strawberries or blueberries (because I love them just the way they are and besides, I’d rather have them in my breakfast bowl), so I used gooseberries instead. And pears.

fresh fraisiers

the gooseberries look like cherry tomatoes, but I assure you this isn't savoury

Gooseberries are a strange fruit – really tart. They’re supposed to be cooked into compotes or similar, but I tried a raw one and thought it might be ok; after all the whole recipe is so sweet that something bitter might just make it a bit more interesting. I coupled them with pears because I’m chicken.

The cake recipe is quite good, although word of warning: mine were (yes I made two) all plump in the oven and just as they came out, but after a while they came down slightly and the tops looked a bit like your fingers when you’re in the bath for too long (also, why are you taking a bath? Take a shower instead!)

I was very tempted to make just standard custard and then add the cream, but in the end made the recommended recipe because I wanted to know what it tasted like, and I’ve tasted custard countless times. And it’s good! It’s nice and sweet, and although the use of cornflour brought out the culinary snob in me (‘Blergh, who thickens custard with corn flour? Blergh!) I ate my words – and a whole lot of custard – as it was actually very very good. Yes I shall be making it again, but perhaps with more eggs and no flour.

I had a few problems with assembly. When cooling, my cakes shrunk from the tin (which wasn’t springform anyway so I don’t even know why I’m mentioning this), so I used a food ring. My largest food ring is slightly smaller than either of the cakes so I had to cut them both. Let’s just say this wasn’t surgery, so the cuts are less then perfect. Also, it wasn’t tall enough for the amount of custard I wanted in it, so the cake had to go on top, i.e. above the ring. Which made for fun unmoulding (read – comedy).

fresh fraisiers

I used elderflower cordial instead of syrup

If anyone has any tips for unmolding a fraiser stuck inside a ring, please let me know; somehow I have a feeling I won’t get very far with Google.

I made my own almond paste, which for the record, YUM. If you make one thing in this dessert, make the almond paste. And then try to resist it, which should be an Olympic sport. I froze my left over one. Recipe is below.

The final result is quite pretty, although it lacks a bit of sofistication in the looks department – that is entirely my fault. The taste test, well it is quite sweet (I was right about the gooseberries but the pears worked really well too) but all in all I think it’s too much work for the final result. Maybe it’s because mine didn’t look as pretty as the pictures, but I don’t think so. I like my desserts simple and stunning (you wouldn’t think so reading this blog though).

Recipe for the whole thing is in the site mentioned above, below is the lovely almond paste:

Almond Paste Recipe
(adapted from this one)
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup icing sugar (yes you will get, as Raymond Blanc would put it, ‘white in the face’)
the equivalent of 1 egg white – I used pasteurised egg whites and would recommend these as salmonella lurks everywhere
1 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1. Combine all ingredients until you have a homogenous mixture. Eat straight away or keeps for 1 week in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
Yield: less than two cups, I think.
fresh fraisiers

pear on the inside, not just above

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