Monday, May 11, 2009

Strawberry Bavarian Cake and a Trifle

Strawberry Bavarian
I am disturbingly indecisive these days. This is strange because I usually know exactly what I want (salespeople hate me) and go after it without too much internal debate. Lately, however, the prospect of the smallest decision, like choosing a sandwich at lunch, is making me want to either run away in panic or bury my head in the sand (I can't decide which one... heh).

Strawberry Bavarian
For example, this Bavarian cake. The internal monologue went something like this: "Omg, I hate this cake. There are just too many components. I mean, who wants to make a cake and strawberry puree AND a batch of pastry cream AND whipped cream AND stabilize it with gelatin?? I am crazy, aren't I? I'm preparing to have 12 people over for brunch. Why could I not have chosen a simple tea cake or something? OH MMMMM.... wait, this cake is AMAZING! It's fantastic, in fact! I am totally making this again! Well -- maybe without the pastry cream... But the pastry cream is SO GOOD! Maybe skip the gelatin? BUT......" and then my head exploded. But at least, I got to eat this cake, and so should you because, really, it's a perfect summer cake and it's totally worth it. I think.

Strawberry Bavarian

Strawberry Bavarian
The only problem I found with this recipe is that it makes way too much cake. I mean, you only need 2 layers, and I had enough cake left over to make 8 mini-trifles (cake cubes layered with strawberries, strawberry puree and whipped cream). Not that I'm complaining, the cake itself was deeeelicious, even if it took an extra half hour to bake, but I don't like surprises in baking, so next time, I would either halve the cake recipe (it halves beautifully) or make it a tall, 3-layer cake with less filling between each layer.

Strawberry Bavarian

1 Chiffon cake, cut into 2 layers (note: this recipe makes way too much cake. Next time, I will either do a tall, 3 layer cake, or halve the chiffon cake recipe)
Fruit puree (recipe below)
Filling (recipe below)
Whipped Cream Topping (recipe below)
Strawberries - about 2 pints (20 oz)

Assembly directions: Prior to assembly, bake the cake and cut it into 2 layers. Make the strawberry puree and the pastry cream. Then, line the sides of a 10-inch springform pan with plastic so that it does not cover the bottom, but there is enough overhang to cover the top of the cake completely. Fit the bottom layer inside and moisten it with half of the fruit puree. At this point, make the gelatin-stabilized whipped cream and mix with pastry cream.

Spread a little of the cream filling on the bottom layer, just barely to cover. Cut about 7-8 strawberries in half and line them up against the sides of the pan, pressing into the cream (so the strawberries go all the way around). Leaving the other strawberries whole, stand them up on top of the bottom layer of the cake, pressing into the cream. Carefully, spread the rest of the filling on top and fit the second layer on top of the filling. Moisten the layer with the remaining fruit puree. Cover in plastic and press gently to spread the filling evenly. Leave in the refrigerator to set for 4 hrs or overnight.

When you are ready to finish the cake, unmold it carefully from the pan and peel off the plastic, then whip the whipped cream with the sugar for the topping until soft peaks form and frost the top of the cake. Decorate. The cake will keep for 3 days (just be careful that it does not absorb the smells of the refrigerator).

Chiffon Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
6 large egg yolks (I used 5)
3/4 cup of water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest, grated
10 large egg whites (I used 8)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with parchment paper cut to fit the bottom exactly. Do not grease the sides of the pan.

Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups of sugar and add the salt, whisk to combine. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Make a well in the flour and add the yolk mixture, and then whisk thoroughly and quickly until very smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold about one-third of the whites into the batter to lighten and then gently fold the remaining whites until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula if necessary. Bake for 45-55 minutes until the top springs back and the tested inserted into the center comes out clean (note: in my oven, this took an extra 30 minutes - I was checking every 10 min). Let the cake cool in the springform pan (so the cake holds its shape) and then run a sharp knife around the edges and unmold.

Fruit puree

1/2 pint (6 oz) strawberries
1/4 cup of sugar
pinch of salt

Combine everything in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

1 batch of Pastry cream (about 2.5 cups)
1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin
1 tbsp water
2 cups heavy cream

In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over water to soften. Heat about 1/2 of the pastry cream (in the microwave or in a double boiler) until hot and whisk in the gelatin until smooth. Whisk half of the remaining pastry cream into the hot mixture, then whisk in the rest. In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately and gently fold the pastry cream into the whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Because the filling will begin to set as soon as the gelatin is mixed into anything cold, it's best to use it immediately (see instructions above on assembly).

1 cup heavy cream, very cold
4 tsp sugar

Whip the cream on high speed until thickened. Add the sugar slowly and whip to soft peaks.

You can make a liqueur-flavored sugar syrup in place of the fruit puree for moistening the cake layers. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup minus 2 tbsp sugar (6 oz) and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and refrigerate until cold. Select the liqueur or other spirit that complements the fruit you are using and whisk 2-4 tablespoons into the sugar syrup.


Dewi said...

How beautiful is this strawberry bavarian cake. It must tastes divine!

Manggy said...

Those are beautiful! I love this cake so much (and it's such a show-stopper) I've made it 3 times already for family and friends. I use up all the cake for the bavarian though: I disregard the cake layer measurements and just slice it in half :)

Finla said...

Wow that cake looks so beautiful and creamy.
I love that spoon too.

oneordinaryday said...

Your cake looks absolutely divine.

Bunny said...

I just found your blog and I love it!! I'm having a bbg on saturday, how far in advance could you make this cake. Maybe bake on friday and assemble on saturday??? This is beautiful!!

Sara said...

I love your internal monologue, so funny! This cake is just beautiful, and such a great way to showcase strawberries.

Irene said...

Bunny - you could make this cake 3 days in advance (or at least, this is what the book says). I made the pastry cream 2 days in advance, made the cake, fruit puree and filling the night before (and assembled it) and then the day of the party, I just whipped some cream for the topping and frosted the cake. Just remember that once you assemble it, it needs at least 4 hrs (or overnight) to sit in the refrigerator so that the filling can set.

Manggy - isn't this a fantastic recipe?? I actually cut it into small slices because I thought people will only want a bit after a full meal... everyone had seconds and the cake was gone quickly!

Kari said...

Three words. You are amazing. You inspire me to be a baker. But instead, can you make me a cake?:)

Y said...

It's just one of those things isn't it? It looks incredibly complicated, but probably isn't, and the result is just sooo worth it. Amazing cake!

Irene said...

I think it was one of those cakes that is a pain in the behind the first time you make it and a breeze the second time. Definitely worth it, though! :)

Juliana said...

Wow, this cake looks so good, my mouth is watering just to look at the pictures...looks so creamy, yummie!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

This is the best treat with strawberries. I love using angel food cake and I make something similar. Gorgeous!

The Food Librarian said...

I'm so happy you decided to make this! It is so beautiful.

Mrs. M. said...

I love the Russian wooden spoon in the jam photo. Nice touch. :)

Linda said...

Based on what i'm seeing in your gorgeous photos, the effort was definitely worth it. What a wonderful way to showcase those luscious berries.

jo said...

I know exactly what you mean the first thing that hits you is the number of components in a recipe. But trust me, the end result usually turns out fantastic - just like your creation here. Lovely job!

grace said...

i'm really enjoying your cake-to-filling ratio. it suits me perfectly! :)

Mermaid Sews said...

Wow, this is so ambitious and gorgeous. Lovely.

Pam said...

Hi, this cake looks great and beautiful, I'll probably try this recipe...
great blog..

Ingrid_3Bs said...

LOL, that does seem like a lot of work but it looks so beautiful. Fantastic job!

Hope your Mother's day was a great one!

Shari said...

If it tastes anything like it looks, it would be divine! An ambitious undertaking but it sounds like it was well worth it. Beautiful!!

Lori said...

It is very beautiful. I am a sucker for s strawberry in a cream type cake. Its always gorgeous. You know I had the same experience with a chiffon cake I made. But I did make it again in more pans and froze them. It was convenient during the summer to pull them out and add fresh fruit.

Irene said...

Lori, what a great idea to freeze the cake! Why did I not think of that? I don't know. Let's call it cake brain! :)

PROUD MOM said...


Stacey said...

Oh my goodness that looks amazing! I bet it was so delicious... love your blog!

Ash said...

ohhh, I like this!!! best cake ever! I'm such a fan of the strawberry, cake, whipped cream combination!

Elyse said...

As an indecisive person, I totally hear your internal dilemma. But, I am so glad you made this cake. It looks fabulous!! I can't wait to try it out for myself. MMmm. Sorry that I’ve been an absent commenter; I just finished up my law school exams and am finally getting around to my google reader.

Barbara Bakes said...

This cake looks so fresh and tasty! I'm glad to hear it was worth all the work!

Kate said...

Is there even such a thing as too much cake? I think trifle is one of those wonderful happy accidents.

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

After all the debate it turns out to be a great cake to serve for a brunch. Really nice.

Anonymous said...

Wow, gorgeous strawberry bavarian cake! Sounds just scrumptious and very decadent!

Anonymous said...

I am going to make this cake for my daughter's birthday. I need to feed 25 people! Do you think I could try making this as a big square cake or do you think it would be too hard to set? I don't know much about cake baking so any advice would be appreciated!!

Irene said...

Sorry for the late reply, last commenter, but yes, you could certainly make it as a big square cake or in a rectangular 9x12 pan. You just need to increase ingredient proportions - well - proportionally, and you also want to have a pan with very straight sides (as opposed to slightly slanted, as a lot of cake pans are) so that you could pile the Bavarian cream on top of one cake layer and cover it with another cake layer without the cream getting everywhere. Happy birthday to your daughter!