Sunday, 28 September 2014

Great British Bake Along: Mary Berry's Fraisier Cake

I feel like I have been moaning about my baking quite a lot recently - saying things didn't turn out quite like I wanted them too, or that something looked better before the glaze melted or the oven caught fire or whatever.

In case my housemates or parents are reading this - that was exaggeration, I have not set the oven on fire. 


Anyway, perhaps I've been experiencing some baking troubles recently because I have been stretching myself by trying a lot of new things in my self-set bake-along challenge. 

And that's fine. Any skill gets better with practice and so if I didn't crimp my pastry properly, or I applied cream to my pecan tart too soon and it melted, I'll know better next time.

But this is one cake that, although it caused me some anxiety at points, turned out exactly how I wanted to. On Friday, we were holding a Macmillan Coffee and Cake morning at work, although it actually went on all day. In case you haven't heard of Macmillan's Coffee morning, it's basically a fundraising event where one person will organise to collect donations from everyone at work in exchange for coffee and cake. Coffee is free in our office, so we just made or bought cakes, cut them into slices and stuck a price on each cake, between 50p to £2 for a slice.

I wanted to make something a bit special, that I hadn't made before, so I attempted the very pretty, very tasty French Fraisier cake, using Mary Berry's recipe. 

It turned out like this:

OK, so it wasn't so pretty when it was cut and the filling splodged everywhere, but I got the photos in before then. 

The decoration did involve me having to bring 3 tupperwares and a sieve to work. I needed a little box full of icing sugar, one with chocolate dipped and sliced strawberries and one with the chocolate decorations. I wasn't convinced that if I decorated it at home the finished product would survive my tube journey and I didn't want the sliced strawberries to bleed and discolour the marzipan.

But apart from having to steal away to the kitchen to work my magic and the panic I felt when I realised the cake board wouldn't fit in my cake box and I was going to have to carry it on the tube for 45 minutes protected only by greaseproof paper and clingfilm, there were no baking mishaps at all.

If you want to make this cake I would say that organisation and precision are really important. No single part of making this cake was hard, but there is a lot to do, so it's not something you can throw together in an hour or so. I baked the sponges in advance and froze them until needed, made the crème mousseline (that's firm custard to me or you) a day in advance and sorted through the strawberries to see which ones were of a similar size and shape before I started using them.

The cake cut into 8, but a more skilled cake slicer could probably manage 10.

You will need:

For the sponges:
125g caster sugar
4 eggs
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
125g self-raising flour, plus extra for flouring
50g melted butter, plus extra for greasing
a small (23cm) baking tin, either spring-form or loose-bottomed

For the crème mousseline:
600ml/20fl oz milk
vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 eggs and 2 egg yolks
180g caster sugar
1 tbsp kirsch or other berry liqueur (I used homemade blackberry liqueur)
100g cornflour
150g butter, cubed and at room temperature

For the lemon syrup:
75g caster sugar
juice of 2 lemons
70ml water

To decorate:
200g golden marzipan
100g dark chocolate
600g strawberries (I'd get them on the day you put the cake together so they're good and fresh)
icing sugar, to dust
a piping bag

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line the baking tin. Place the sugar, eggs and lemon zest for the sponge in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water.

2. Whisk with an electric hand mixer until pale, doubled in size and very thick - you're aiming for soft peaks. Remove from the heat, sift in half of the flour and fold it in carefully. Sift in the rest and fold again. Add the melted butter and fold in. Bake in the prepared tin for 25-30 minutes until risen and pale golden brown.

3. Slice the sponge in half horizontally with a long, sharp knife and level off the top of the uppermost sponge. Set aside until needed.

4. To make the crème mousseline put the milk in a pan and add the vanilla bean paste, or if using a vanilla pod split it lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife before adding to the pan. Bring the milk to the boil and then take off the heat.

5. Whisk together all the remaining crème mousseline ingredients in a bowl, save for the butter and strain the milk mixture through a sieve into the bowl, whisking all the time to combine. Put the crème in a clean saucepan and put on a medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. This will take about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter then pour into a shallow dish and chill in the fridge until cooled.

6. Put the ingredients for the lemon syrup in a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves, then boil rapidly for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

7. Clean the baking tin and removing the base, place the tin on the plate or board on which you will be serving the cake. Line the sides with clingfilm and then with a piece of baking paper, keeping it as straight as possible and avoiding any folding or crumpling of the paper. Put the sponge back in the tin.

8. Brush the top of the sponge with the lemon syrup until you have used up half the syrup. Then use the back of a spoon or a spatula to squish the sponge down and against the sides of the tin. Select 12 large strawberries of a similar size and shape and hull them, then slice lengthwise. Set them on top of the sponge, with the cut side against the side of the baking tin.

9. Spoon the crème mousseline into a piping bag and pipe in between the strawberries and over the sponge until covered. Then wash, slice and hull the rest of the stawberries, keeping 3-5 whole for decoration. Add most of the sliced strawberries to the baking tin, keeping just a few back for decoration.

10. Pipe more crème mousseline on top of the strawberries until covered, then even up with the back of a spoon, spreading right up to the sides of the tin.

11. Place the other sponge on top and repeat the brushing with syrup and squishing down. Roll out the marzipan and use the base of the cake tin to cut out a circle the size of the top of the cake, then place it on top. Put the cake in the fridge to chill.

12. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, then dip the whole strawberries in it and place upside down on a sheet of greaseproof paper to set. Put the remaining chocolate in a piping bag, snip the end off and pipe decorative shapes on the sheet of greaseproof paper. Leave to set.

13. Take the cake out of the fridge when needed and lift off the tin and clingfilm. Carefully peel away the greaseproof paper and dust the top of the cake with enough icing sugar to completely cover it. Place the chocolate decorations around the edge of the cake and top with the chocolate-dipped and sliced strawberries you kept for decoration.

14. Pose with your beautiful creation.

I am pleased to say we raised a total of £170 for Macmillan Cancer Support, so well done us. 

I am also nominating this post as my cake bake-along post, because I didn't actually make a cake on the first week of the Bake Off. I only came up with the bake-along idea later.

Yes, I know they didn't make it in the episode. They made Swiss rolls and mini cakes. But I don't care.

See you soon for advanced dough! No, I don't know what "advanced" entails either. But I'm making Chelsea Buns.



  1. I plan to make this for my mum's birthday this weekend and your trick with the clingfilm and parchment paper has just saved me spending a fortune on acetate! Thanks!

  2. No, thank you! It's great to know my blog post helped someone. Hope your mum enjoys her birthday cake!