Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry Meringue Cake

This must be my second most tedious cake to make, after my Barbie doll cake.  While I did not spend hours  to make this strawberry meringue cake, it takes planning, lots of patience and caring hands to create this.  I called this strawberry meringue cake, but the actual name is Fraisier, a classic French cake.  The cake is filled with lots of strawberries in between layers of sponge, pastry cream, butter cream and finally topped with Italian meringue.


To make the sponge:
I made the sponge with sponge ready-mix: 125g ready-mix, 2.5 eggs, 25ml water and 25g butter.  Prepare the cake batter per instructions on package and pour into 6" round pan.  Bake in preheated oven at180C for 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool on rack and slice into two.

To make the butter cream:

70g caster sugar
20ml water
1 egg white, at room temperature (I used medium-sized egg)
125g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
A tiny pinch of salt

1) Put sugar and water in a small pot and bring it to boil over medium low heat.  
2) When the syrup starts to bubble, start to whisk the egg white till foamy.
3) When the syrup reaches 117C (see note), pour it over the meringue and continue to whisk for another 3 to 5 minutes.
4) Add salt, and gradually add in the butter and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes.
5) Scrape the butter cream into a piping bag, secure and keep chill in fridge.

[Note: I don't have a cooking thermometer, so I gauge by looking at the bubbles - when the syrup first starts to boil, the bubbles are bigger, then as it continues to boil and ready for use, more tiny bubbles will form on the surface and the syrup has become thicker, but still flowing]

To make the pastry cream:

125ml milk
1/4 vanilla pod - scrape the seeds (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
2 egg yolks
20g sugar
15g plain flour
10g unsalted butter

1) Bring milk to boil.  Mix the yolks, sugar, flour together.
2) Remove the milk from heat once it starts to boil.  Stir in 2 tablespoons of hot milk to the yolk mixture. Slowly pour the remaining hot milk into the yolk mixture while whisking it.
3) Sieve the mixture back into the pot, add the vanilla seeds and let it cook over low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes while continue whisking it.
4) Remove from heat and scrape the pastry cream into a bowl.  Whisk the cream in the bowl for another minute or two (to bring down the temperature) and whisk in the butter.  Cover and set aside.

To make the syrup (for brushing on sponge):

30g sugar
30ml water
20ml kirsch (I used rum)

Dissolve the sugar in the water.  Let the syrup cool and mix in the rum.

Prepare the strawberries

You will need about 300g strawberries.  
Wash and trim off the top.  Select 7 to 8 nice-looking and uniform-sized strawberries.  Cut them into halves.  Cut the rest of the strawberries into thin slices (reserved the larger slices for garnish on top)

[Note: To ensure the strawberries stay nice and fresh, wash and cut the strawberries only when you are ready to assemble the cake]

To make the Italian Meringue:

50g egg whites (about 1.5 egg whites from medium-sized eggs)
80g sugar
20ml water

1) Put sugar and water in a small pot and bring it to boil over medium low heat.  
2) When the syrup starts to bubble, start to whisk the egg white till foamy.
3) When the syrup reaches 117C, pour it over the meringue and continue to whisk for another 5 minutes, till the meringue cools down.

[Note: For syrup boiling at 117C, see above note on "To make the butter cream".  Make the meringue only when you are ready to spread the meringue layer on top of the cake, i.e. after step 5 below in "To assemble the cake"]

To assemble the cake:

1) Place one piece of sponge in a cake ring.  The cake ring should be bigger than the size of sponge so that you can fit in the strawberry halves around the edge.  Alternatively, if the cake ring is the same sized as the sponge, sit the strawberry halves on top of the sponge.  Sprinkle some syrup over the sponge.

2) Pipe a row of butter cream around the sponge and sit the strawberry halves on top of the cream, with the cut sides of the strawberries facing outward.  Pipe some more butter cream on top of the strawberries and use a spoon or spatula to smooth out the butter cream.

3) Spread a thin layer of pastry cream over the sponge and arrange some strawberry slices on it.  Spread a thin layer of butter cream on top of the strawberries and smooth it.

4) Place the second piece of sponge on the strawberries and sprinkle some syrup over the sponge.  Pipe a row of butter cream around the cake (pipe it as close as possible to the edge).  Spread a thin layer of pastry cream and top with strawberry slices.  Spread another thin layer of butter cream over the strawberry slices and smooth it.

5) Refrigerate the cake for an hour to firm up the butter cream.

6) Cover the top with meringue and chill it again for half an hour (or 10 minutes in freezer).  Meanwhile, preheat grill or broiler at 190C.  Place the cake into the oven to brown the meringue on top (takes just a minute or two) and remove it from the oven immediately.  Place in fridge to chill.
[Note: I like the brown marks on the meringue to contrast with the cake.  If you prefer a lily white meringue surface, omit this step.  Alternatively, you can grill the top with a cooking torch]

7) Garnish the cake with fresh strawberry slices.

[Source: Recipe modified from Daily Delicious]

The verdict:

Appearance: The cake looks fairly presentable (my little gal thought I bought it from a cake shop).  But, I need to pay more attention to the details and improve on my cake decorating skills.  When I pipe the butter cream on the second layer of sponge, I did not pipe it close to the edge, so there are several "holes" on the sides when I unmould the cake.

Sponge:  The sponge is too dense.  Somehow, my results with sponge cake has been very inconsistent.  A soft and airy sponge will certainly add bonus points to this cake.

Pastry cream:  Personally, I prefer pastry cream with fruit tarts.  Probably, a little lemon zest and juice in the pastry cream would work better with the sponge and strawberries.

Butter cream:  Smooth and light.  This is the best part of the cake and goes very well with the strawberries.  

Italian meringue:  I have quite a sweet-tooth, yet I find the sweetness in the meringue, together with the sponge, pastry cream and strawberries, is still too much for my liking.  Either I do away with the meringue layer, or I should have halved the meringue recipe (i.e. have a thinner layer of meringue), and prepare a lemon sponge with lemon-infused pastry cream.  I think meringue works very well with lemon, such as in lemon meringue tart, where the sweetness of the meringue is nicely balanced with the tartness of the lemon.


  1. Looks delicious!
    I love all cakes with strawberries

  2. Looks beautiful. I'm thinking of what cake to make for my baby girl's b-day and this seems perfect. Hm...I wonder if the markets here sells sponge cake pre-mix. I don't think I've seem them before.

  3. Wendy: I love strawberries too!

    鲸鱼: 欢迎光临!

    Amy: How about cake mix? The original recipe calls for genoise and Daily Delicious has the recipe in her blog.

  4. Hi,

    This is one lovely cake, well done!

    I have not tried using pastry cream and meringue for my layer cakes yet. This is definitely one cake that requires a lot of effort.

  5. Such a lovely cake you have here. All the cakes you feature here are just beautiful. I like how you decorate the wavy top.

  6. nonetheless, this still look super pretty!! (: (: YUM YUM!

  7. It looks delicious. The layers must equal a lot of flavor...and its so pretty too.

  8. omigosh!! THIS IS SO PRETTY!!!!!!!


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